Storey update to be presented to councillors

The Storey Institute in Lancaster.
The Storey Institute in Lancaster.

An update on the crisis-hit Storey Creative Industries Centre will be presented to councillors next week.

Last month, Lancaster City Council forfeited the lease of the Storey Creative Industries Centre Ltd (SCIC Ltd), and took possession of the centre after the company went into liquidation.

Council officers have since metwith tenants while dealing with arrangements like room bookings, licensing arrangements, internet connections and marketing.

A report due to go to council cabinet on Tuesday, says that charges for these services could be recovered in full from tenants.

It says seven tenants have signed interim three-month licences to continue operating. Talks are ongoing with three others and two new prospective tenants.

Full council had agreed that the preference should be for The Storey to continue as a creative industries centre, but other options may also be considered.

The report says these could include redeveloping part of the building for another use. A different interpretation of the creative industries concept is also raised as a possibility, which could include selling unoccupied council commercial properties to generate cash to invest in regeneration.

The report adds that future management could either take place in-house, in conjunction with tenants, or by appointing a management company.

The Storey is now expected to cost the council at least £88,000 for 2012/13, £23,000 more than originally budgeted. That could rise if major repair work is needed, but could fall if occupancy rises.

Meanwhile, the council has insisted that a decision to grant SCIC Ltd an emergency £90,000 loan last December was taken in consultation with council leader Coun Eileen Blamire and cabinet member Janice Hanson. It says Coun Blamire then discussed the matter informally with cabinet colleagues.

Conservative Coun Roger Mace had questioned the “democratic accountability” of the decision.