Leadmill: Tenants take to streets in protest over future of legendary Sheffield venue

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The argument between The Leadmill's tenants and its new landlords The Electric Group rumbles on

The dispute over the future of The Leadmill in Sheffield has heated up with the announcement of an upcoming rally - which has been met with scorn by the venue's new landlords.

It has been over a year since the venue's longstanding tenants were told to vacate by new owners The Electric Group, in what the current bosses have repeatedly called a "hostile takeover".

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The argument between The Leadmill's tenants and its new landlords The Electric Group grinds on.The argument between The Leadmill's tenants and its new landlords The Electric Group grinds on.
The argument between The Leadmill's tenants and its new landlords The Electric Group grinds on.

While the incoming owners maintain they only intend to invest in the venue and keep the party going, current operator Phil Mills says only he and his team can preserve the "spirit" of the club through his #SaveThe Leadmill campaign.

Now, Mr Mills and his team say they are "taking to the streets" and have called a rally in what they have declared "the battle for the soul of Sheffield" - while Electric Group bosses say they are tired of the "campaign to mislead the public".

The Leadmill calls for supporters to "take to the streets" with rally

The Leadmill's tenants are calling for support at 9am on Monday, September 18, outside Sheffield Town Hall to "stop the hostile takeover".

"The Battle for the Soul of Sheffield will take to the streets September 18," reads the heated call to action.

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"The campaign to stop the hostile takeover of The Leadmill will bring together music enthusiasts, local residents, and cultural advocates in a resounding show of unity.

"We’re working to save The Leadmill, protect our city’s heritage, and defend our culture, but on 18th September, the decision about this hostile takeover will go to a public hearing, and we need you there.

"We have been overwhelmed by your support so far, but it will take the full strength of this campaign to secure victory and win the Battle for the Soul of Sheffield."

The tenants also say they are holding "drop-in sessions" on how to make placards and signs, with details to come on their campaign's website.

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The Electric Group's response - Stop with the 'high-minded rhetoric'

In response, The Electric Group has accused the venue's tenants of "high-minded rhetoric" and says it is tired of "this campaign to mislead the public".

Landlord Dominic Madden, who bought the buidling's freehold in 2016, told The Star: "I take issue with the narrative of the Save Leadmill campaign. I’m not a property developer or a ‘shadowy’ London investor coming to ruin and destroy an arts institution.

"Mr Mills' campaign has deployed aggressive social media tactics hoping I would retreat... I question his motivations.

"I suspect behind all the high-minded rhetoric he’s angry that his lease is coming to an end, angry that his cash-cow is being stopped and kicking himself that he didn’t buy the Freehold at auction when he had the opportunity.

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"Mr Mills' campaign has tried to worry people in Sheffield and Yorkshire, leading to speculation on social media that ‘London folk’ are going to ignore the roots of The Leadmill and it will be a high street ‘nightclub’.

"I have said repeatedly that I have bought the Leadmill to protect it and I will."

It comes after The Electric Group launched a legal bid in July to oust Mr Mills by the first quarter of 2023.

Electric Group bought the iconic building in 2017 and issued an eviction order last year. It expected to take over when a 20-year lease expired in March of this year. But the famous city centre club continues to operate as normal, with acts booked until late 2024.

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