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Dudley Hippodrome campaign ramps up ahead of decision

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | News | Published:

Campaigners have not given up hope of re-opening the famous Dudley Hippodrome as a theatre - as a final decision on its future draws nearer.

The iconic former theatre will soon be brought back into focus, with council bosses in Dudley to decide whether a plan to turn it into a base for driverless vehicles should progress.

Experts from the Dudley Driverless Vehicles Consortium were given 12 months last December to put together their vision for the building.

Those plans will soon be scrutinised by council bosses to see if they are deemed a viable use for the site.

A decision on the future of the Hippodrome is expected in the new year.

If the driverless vehicle plan is given the go-ahead it will finally draw a line under the saga surrounding the site which has been ongoing for the last few years.

However, campaigners still retain hope that the venue could be "'saved" and restored.

A community group was previously given the keys to the Hippodrome before they were taken back by Dudley Council when chiefs ruled they would not be able to come up with the necessary cash to bring the Hippodrome back to life.

Campaigners Angela Fletcher, Paul Winchurch and Ivor Robinson alongside others have long petitioned Dudley Council

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A meeting of the Dudley Hippodrome Supporters Group was held last week.

Promoting the event on social media, Marlene Watson invited "everyone who wants our lyric theatre saved" to attend.

Theoretically, there could be a way back in for the campaigners should the driverless vehicle project stall.

The run-down building on Castle Hill has been shut since 2012 when it was last used as a bingo hall.

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Dudley Council's deputy chief executive Alan Lunt said: "We are continuing to work with the consortium to develop proposals and an update will be reported to cabinet early in the new year when we have evaluated progress."

The decision to allow the driverless vehicle company to draw up plans prompted an angry reaction from campaigners who insisted they should have been allowed to try and turn the iconic venue into a theatre once again.

The likes of Bruce Forsyth, Bob Hope and Ken Dodd graced the Hippopdrome stage in years gone by.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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