Save the Leadmill: campaigners take fight to Sheffield Council chamber

Campaigners fighting to save the Leadmill urged Sheffield Council to do all it can to help in a meeting this week.

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 3:56 pm

Two speakers attended the economic development and skills committee asking councillors to support the cause.

They said the Leadmill, a 42-year-old famous independent live music and club venue in the city centre, was still facing eviction by its landlord in 10 months.

Ian Lawlor, who spoke first, said it has caused “immeasurable stress and anxiety” for the team who were all still recovering from the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Sheffield's Leadmill

“This eviction notice came as a real shock,” he said.

“Once the Leadmill is evicted it will be stripped of everything including all utilities including gas and electricity. It will be stripped of the floor, the bars, stage, speakers and even the doors. What would be left would be a sad shell of a once derelict, empty, old flour mill.”

Although Electric Group, the landlord, said there was “never any question” of closing it and that it would be refurbished the venue managers said the landlord does not own the brand, adding: “Without us there is no Leadmill.”

Mr Lawlor said it would mean redundancy for more than 80 people who make up the team because returning it to an operational venue would take at least a year and they would not want to work for the new company.

Ian Lawlor, of the Leadmill

He said the club had employed more than 900 people over the past 10 years.

Plea for help

Rose Wilcox, from the Leadmill, also spoke at the meeting.

She said: “Unless the council intervenes the Leadmill will cease to exist in March 2023.

Rose Wilcox of the Leadmill

Sheffield is considered one of the best breeding grounds for new music in the UK. The amount of wildly successful artists that have been produced in this city is staggering. Music is part of Sheffield’s cultural identity, an identity which the Leadmill has played an important role in cultivating.

“Over the last 42 years the Leadmill has worked constantly with new musicians to nurture and develop their talent. The loss of the Leadmill will mean the loss of a powerful institution and cultural asset which has helped to put Sheffield on the map.

“Sheffield will lose a company that cares deeply about this city and the people who live and work here. It will lose a company that works closely with the local community, supports local businesses, regularly donates to local charities and nurtures and elevates the local music scene.

“Sheffield will lose a company that brings tens of thousands of people into the city each year. And Sheffield will lose that feeling of pride when being compared to surrounding cities’ musical heritage.”

She added: “What is the council willing to do to prevent this travesty from happening?”

Councillor Martin Smith, chair of the committee, said the council was working to find solutions such as alternative venues and whether a compulsory purchase order was possible.

He added: “I know it’s an unsettling time at the moment. It can’t have been easy asking the questions so thank you very much.

“Music is a core part of the city’s cultural identity.

“Personally I’ve never been to the Leadmill but my kids have been bending my ear about this and I’m sure other members of the committee know the Leadmill well and we understand how people feel about it.”

The council previously stated it would do “whatever it takes” to save it.