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Altrincham Town Hall future secured as Trafford Council picks arts group to take over lease

The council invited bids for the lease of the building - which dates back to 1901 - and we can reveal that the winner is Altrincham-based Oyez Arts.

A new community arts centre is to take over the lease at Altrincham Town Hall, ending fears that the historic building could fall into private hands.

Last year Trafford Council had signalled its intention to sell the 25-year lease on the building to the Juice Nursery childcare business, saying the Jacobean building on Market Street had become too expensive to run.

Local community groups and politicians, including Altrincham and Sale West MP Sir Graham Brady, had fought against the proposed disposal and a petition calling on the council to stop the sale was signed by almost 2,000 local residents.

Eventually, the council invited local businesses and community groups to bid for the lease of the building - which dates back to 1901 - and we can reveal today that the winner is Altrincham-based arts group Oyez Arts.

Oyez Arts - pronounced 'oh yay' as a nod to the traditional call of a town crier - has been co-founded by Jo Cushing, CEO of Inch Arts on Stamford New Road, and Jodie Saint, who has a background in corporate events.

The pair said that Oyez Arts will give Altrincham a completely new arts centre, and will work with local artists and creatives on a wide range of high-quality arts activities.

The group also wants to provide a place where people can meet, create and thrive, and create a much-needed events space in the heart of the town that is open to everyone.

"We are excited to bring Oyez Arts to Altrincham," said Jo. "Oyez literally means ‘Hear Ye’, it’s an official town hall cry and we love that it represents a call to gather our community as well as a celebratory shout out.

Oyez Arts has been co-founded by Jodie Saint (left) and Jo Cushing

"Our events will make the Town Hall buzz with life and bring something new for everyone. We believe, together, the possibilities are endless."

Jodie added: "The vision is to turn it into a lively hub of arts activity, including performances, book clubs, film clubs, nit and natters, that kind of thing. We want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible across the community."

Jo and Jodie hope to launch a community share offer this summer, similar to the one Stretford Town Hall used to raise over £250,000 in 2017, in order to fund the renovation work required on Altrincham Town Hall.

They hope that Oyez Arts will be up and running at the town hall by the autumn.

"It's a very exciting offer," said Jo. "It's a fabulous building and it should be in public use."

Cllr Tom Ross, Trafford Council Leader, said: “Congratulations to Oyez Arts for being selected to take on the lease at Altrincham Town Hall. We had a number of excellent bids and I am delighted that Oyez was chosen as the eventual winner.

“The group has an excellent reputation for its community initiatives and we look forward to working with them now and in the future. Thank you to everyone who helped in the procurement exercise - I am extremely pleased with the outcome.”

Oyez will also continue to host weddings and other public events currently on offer at Altrincham Town Hall.