CAMPAIGNERS bidding to save the Artrix have been dealt a fresh blow after being told the District Council does not have the powers to take over its running.
A petition urging the council to take control was signed by almost 5,000 people and was presented to council chiefs at their last meeting.
But it was revealed that the centre is owned by Bromsgrove Arts Development Trust, not the authority.
Leader Karen May moved to address the future of Artrix by detailing how the authority can help.
“The future ultimately rests with the trust and its trustees, legally we cannot step in,” she said.
“But the council can and is supporting the trust by facilitating it with independent advice and support.
“The petitioners can be assured that we are committed to making sure the Artrix has a sustainable future.
“This is evident by the support we are giving as well as purchasing the piano, lighting and other operational items from the insolvency practitioner.”
Liberal Democrats Coun Hughes and Coun Hunter, supported by Labour leader Coun McDonald, argued that the council should prepare for a scenario where the trust calls upon the council to manage the centre.
They said a business case should be brought forward to show that the council has done its ‘homework’ in preparation.
But officers and Coun May reiterated that it is down to the trust to dictate the future of the centre and that it would be ‘wrong to get involved at this point’.
The petition was created by the chair of the Bromsgrove Labour Party, Rory Shannon, who admitted he was shocked at how quickly signatures rolled in.
He said: “I thought it would be a good way of gaining public support, I had no idea it would be so popular with 1,000 signatures in under 24 hours.
“Five-thousand signatures is quite unique for any petition in Bromsgrove and while the vast majority were people from our town, they also filtered out to places like Stourbridge and Kidderminister who also use our arts centre.”
Councillor Colella of Bromsgrove Alliance described the petition as ‘worthy’ but described its wording as ‘flawed’.
He said: “I feel sorry for the signatories that the petition was signed in good faith and it may have raised false hope that this can be actually achieved.
“A correctly worded and carefully articulated call to action is required and the petition resubmitted.
“Having said that I recognise the spirit of it and I thank all those have signed it for raising it with us.”