Closure of The Square - reaction from the Leader of the Council

Monday, 9 January, 2017

The following statement from the Leader of Harlow Council has been issued on the closure of The Square.

Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of the Council, said:

"We share residents and local musicians' disappointment that for the second time in recent years the hugely popular music venue The Square will be closing.

"There is no doubt that The Square makes a fantastic contribution to culture in Harlow and its loss will be huge. That is one of the reasons why we refused Circle Anglia's planning application in January 2015. Unfortunately this decision was overturned on appeal by the Government's Planning Inspector in September 2016.

"The venue's future has been uncertain for a long time and since February 2014 we have worked with the Square and Circle Anglia (now Clarion Housing) to try and find a suitable alternative venue and have put forward proposals. Unfortunately as a result of many different factors the Square's management did not feel any alternatives were suitable or met their aspirations. We have also arranged for business plan support to be given to the Square and provided advice on the company's future structure so it can attract other funding not currently available to it. As frustrating as it sounds, no Council can give public money to private companies like the Square just like it cannot give pubs, nightclubs and shops money to continue operating.

"Our offer is still open to assist the Square's management and look at what support, including possible financial support, we could provide them if they find a suitable alternative venue.

"The Square's management have worked tirelessly to keep this much loved facility going since 2008. We thank them for the service and the cultural contribution they have provided to the town from this iconic Fourth Avenue building.  If the Square's management does regrettably decide not to carry on and run a similar venue elsewhere then the Council will explore every avenue with other groups and organisations so that our young people's musical talent can be nurtured. However, Harlow Council will not be able to fund or directly provide a complete replacement live music venue like the Square. With continued Government funding cuts, we are working hard to fund and maintain the many services and buildings we already provide the community."