The Leadmill Sheffield: Tenants say they will strip venue back to 'a derelict flour mill' if they are evicted
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Support continues to pour in from across the music scene to ‘save’ the club in its current form after its future was thrown into question last week.
The venue’s landlord, The Electric Group, has served the current management team notice and will take over running the club next year, with plans to invest £1m and preserve the building as a music venue.
Its head of music, Mike Weller, said in a statement it was “absurd and disingenuous” to say the venue is closing, apart from shutting its doors for “a quick tidy up”.
But it seems the current tenants have their own thoughts on that.
Speaking with The Star, The Leadmill’s general manager, Ian Lawlor, said it was the group’s intention to take everything “from the fixtures to the doors” when they go and leave the venue “a derelict flour mill.”
"They keep saying The Leadmill will continue, that the Leadmill will be safe,” said Mr Lawlor.
“The Leadmill will not continue – The Leadmill is us, the staff and all the fixtures. We'll take everything with us, because we own it - the fixtures, the equipment, the doors.
"When we leave it will be a derelict flour mill, and that’s what they will be left with.
"They'll have to start from scratch, it will take them a year to get it up and running.”
In a statement yesterday, Mr Weller claimed The Leadmill’s operator offered to buy the venue’s freehold in 2015 for £150,000 but was turned down, at which point Electric Group finalised a deal for it in 2017.
"This is what I’ve been saying when people ask ‘why didn’t you buy the building?’,” said Mr Lawlor. “That's a non question. That's not the question. What they are doing is immoral.
"There’s thousands of empty buildings they could have bought but they chose the Leadmill to bank our our name and good will. They’re pulling it from under our noses.
"We’ve had a long history of landlords over 43 years staying in the background collecting their rent, and we had no reason to think someone would do this to us.”
Mr Weller’s statement ended: "We are also happy to engage with all the staff to make sure they are protected too.”
Mr Lawlor rejected this, saying: "One thing I’ve seen the landlords put out repeatedly is that they are ‘just replacing management’, as if it’s just four or five people. They claim staff will be protected and they are just replacing management, when in reality more than 100 people will lose their jobs.
"We plan to take everything when we go and it will take a year to get things going again. Will they protect those jobs in the meantime?”
Mr Lawlor declined to comment when asked on what day the team was served the eviction notice.
Scores of music stars and members of the public have thrown their support behind the #WeCantLoseLeadmill campaign.
Electric Group operates other music venues across the UK. It grew out of the success of its refurbishment of the Brixton Fridge as Electric Brixton, and is set to relaunch the O2 Academy in Newcastle as independent venue ‘NX’.