ONE YEAR ON
It’s been just over a year since the historic meeting in Morecambe Town Hall where the council unanimously voted to overturn the Co-op’s eviction notice, repair the building and give us a long term lease. So we thought this would be a good opportunity to let you know how things have been progressing.
First of all we’d like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support, all the people who turned up at the town hall and all who campaigned and spoke out on our behalf. Also a huge thank you to everyone who has organised and played at fundraising events over the past year, everyone who supports us and of course all our customers over the past 34 years.
What’s been happening since the Council meeting last November?
The council agreed to overturn the eviction notice and carry out repairs to the building to make it watertight and structurally sound. A figure of £358k was mentioned as the expected cost of repairs.
The Music Co-op was required to do some very urgent repairs and carry out some surveys regarding health and safety before the eviction notice could officially be overturned which happened just before Xmas. We had asbestos and legionella surveys carried out, made some electrical improvements and reviewed our fire safety procedures.
In spring the council commissioned an extensive survey of the building to detail all the work needed to make the building watertight and bring it up to scratch. The schedule of works was sent out to tender and a number of contractors responded. We haven’t seen the results of the tendering process but have been told that the cost of work outlined looks set to be considerably more than anticipated.
With the help of business consultant Sally Bloomer the Music Co-op are developing a comprehensive business plan (part funded by the council) which should be completed in the new year. This recently led to a preliminary survey of Co-op users to get views on what people like and what can be improved. A big thanks to everyone who took part in the survey. We’ve looked carefully at all the survey comments and passed them unedited to council officers. All comments were very welcome and we’re addressing all suggestions for improvements. At the moment and until the building has been made watertight we can’t do much about improving the damp state of some of the rehearsal rooms unfortunately.
If you’d like to see a summary of the survey results you can find it here.
An interim assessment report from the business plan (needed by the council to help allocate funds for repairs and work out details for the lease) has recently been sent to council officers. This includes the financial state of the business, results of the preliminary survey along with demographics of users, future developments and business growth potential.
We should know soon the council’s response to the assessment report and when repairs to the roof and building can begin.
Over the next few months we will be holding public consultations to get your input on how we might develop in the future. These will give you a chance to give your views about the Music Co-op and help shape its future. No dates yet, they’ll be in the next 2-3 months and we’ll publicise them as soon as we know.
Once the building is dry we can start to redevelop the downstairs area with new rehearsal rooms, toilets, refreshments area and storage lockers. We will need to raise money to achieve this. Up to now it’s been impossible to secure funding for redevelopment without the security of a long term lease.
We plan to build more rehearsal rooms which are fully soundproofed with heating and ventilation. We’ve had some preliminary sketches from an architect and we’ve also been working on some of our own ideas for room design. We’ve calculated that rehearsal rooms will cost £8-10,000 to build and we would plan to have 5 or 6.
A dry roof also means that our upper floor can be used again and with some improvements we hope to be able to make this a space with a public capacity of 2-300 which could be used for live events, rehearsals for large groups, recording, filming, talks, exhibitions….. We have loads of ideas and we’d love to hear others.
We will also need to make space for public toilets, a refreshment/ relaxation area and new storage lockers, ideally with a way for users to have 24hr access to drop off gear after gigs. There will be disabled access to the upper area via a lift and disabled toilet facilities on the ground floor.
A huge thank you to everyone who’s donated to our GoFundMe page, bought T-Shirts, bags and Bandcamp songs and to everyone who’s organised and played at fundraising events. So far we have raised £9400
Don’t worry we haven’t spent it on booze, fags and exotic holidays. The money is just “resting in our account”. We have about enough at the moment to build one new fully soundproofed rehearsal room. We’re getting some equipment repaired so there should be plenty of guitar and bass amps available soon.