The Fairfield Halls, which Croydon’s council leader Tony Newman promised would re-open in July this year following a £30million, two-year refurbishment programme, now won’t be running a full programme of events until September 2019 at the earliest.
That’s the shocking news from highly placed sources within BHLive, the Bournemouth-based firm which has been hired by Croydon Council to manage the Fairfield’s large concert hall, along with the Ashcroft Theatre, Arnhem Gallery and associated bars and restaurants.
The planned opening date has slipped almost from the very first day of the refurbishment works, following the Halls’ “temporary” closure in June 2016.
Since then, thousands of the borough’s residents have been denied the annual pleasure of the Croydon pantomime – apart from those who have gone along to watch Councillor Newman and his mates performing in the Council Chamber.
Oh, how they laughed as recently as July, when Newman was telling a public council meeting that the programme for the re-opened Halls would be announced “very soon”, with events expected to be staged there again from “early” in 2019.
But according to sources at BHLive, the Fairfield Halls will now not be fully operational before the middle of September next year, dealing the operators a massive blow.
Building works on the Fairfield site, overseen by the council’s house-building company, Brick by Brick, have progressed very slowly. Only in the past six weeks have the structural steels emerged in the hole where the Arnhem Gallery is supposed to be, while scaffolding across the front of the Halls has also only been erected recently.
The latest set-back has even forced the postponement of the Grand Re-opening Gala Concert, which was supposed to be staged in the presence of the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Inside Croydon revealed exclusively that a date of June 12 2019 had been set for the glitzy royal occasion – Prince Edward being a patron of the London Mozart Players, who were eagerly anticipating a return to the orchestra’s home venue in their 70th anniversary year.
But in the past week, even the London Mozart Players have been forced to amend their pre-publicity for the gala concert, changing its date from June to a more cautious “to be confirmed”.
There is uncertainty now whether the royal couple will be available to attend the postponed re-opening event.
“Getting a date in any royal diary is never a straightforward matter,” a source told Inside Croydon.
Prince Edward’s grandmother, the Queen Mother, had presided over the opening of the Fairfield Halls in 1962, while the Earl attended the somewhat more subdued final concert in 2016, presumably in anticipation of returning only two years later.
BHLive refused to comment on the record when approached by Inside Croydon today.
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