Oldham Coliseum has been “failed, failed and failed again” say Liberal Democrats

Howard Sykes MBE, and leader of Oldham Councils’ Liberal Democrat Opposition said, “For all the talk of levelling up, the Council and the Government have had a decade to really make a difference for our town.”

In 2013, a ten-year refurbishment of the Oldham Coliseum building triggered a raft of plans to rejuvenate arts and culture in Oldham.

Councillor Sykes said, “Instead, plans came and went. The clock was run down, until the Arts Council pulled the rug from under the feet of an organisation that was only just still standing. Now the Coliseum has simply run out of time and resources. A decade of missed opportunities from the Government and the Labour Council have brought us to this situation.”

In 2013, proposals for a new building collapsed. In 2019, the same happened again. Then in 2022, a third set of plans reduced the options to a much smaller 260 seat theatre (the current capacity is 550 and would lead to major changes regardless), one which would not open until at least 2026, and that is now in doubt. There have been 10 wasted years and the window to do something has now been slammed shut

Councillor Sykes said, “If the Oldham Labour administration had put more time and effort on this jewel in Oldham’s’ crown instead of wasting it on failures like Prince’s Gate and Hotel Futures, we would now have a brand new theatre and a safe and thriving Coliseum.”

While the plans for a smaller theatre are approaching the planning stage, they are heavily watered down from the original proposals in size and scale.

Councillor Sykes said, “It’s heart-breaking to see the old building close. When I saw the panto this year, I did not think that it was the last time I would get to see one in the old building. I remember taking my children to see their first panto there and can recall being taken as a child myself!”

“What a travesty it is that future generations stand to miss out on this jewel in Oldham’s crown. I have signed the “Save Oldham Coliseum” petition and I encourage people in our Borough and beyond to do the same, more than 7.500 people already have. We need to make our voice heard.”

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