The Armstrong Hall complex on Chapel Street – which includes Armstrong Hall and The Cossham Hall – has been described as “vital” and “an asset” by campaigners and theatre-goers.
Due to ongoing costs, it was closed for the “foreseeable future” three years ago in 2020, resulting in the loss of five jobs.
Now an open letter to reopen the hall launched by the Thornbury Musical Theatre Group has been signed by 250 local residents.
The beloved venue – which was first opened in 1972 – was a hub for theatre and community groups with a wide range of performances and activities taking place.
Just before the local elections earlier this month, a dispute erupted between campaigners and Thornbury Town Council over the venue’s ownership and running of the hall.
Campaigners from Armstrong Hall Action Alliance claim that the Thornbury Town Council has not been transparent enough and allege as a trustee of the hall, the council needs to do more to reopen.
But the town council has refuted this saying the authority is completely separate and they have no responsibility over its running or closure.
Geoff Kitchen from TMTG is now urging newly elected town councillors to help reopen Armstrong Hall.
He said: “The open letter we sent to Thornbury Town councillors and Armstrong Trust representatives has clearly been popular as more than 250 local residents have signed up, many of them with a lot of passion in their comments.
“The majority of new councillors declared their support for at least reconsidering the opening of the Armstrong Hall complex.
“This really shows that there is a new momentum in favour of the Armstrong Hall and Thornbury having a viable performance space urgently.”
Previously in May last year 94 per cent of Thornbury residents voted asking the town council to hold a public consultation about Armstong Hall – although the turnout of that vote was only about 24 per cent.
A spokesperson for Thornbury Town Council previously said: “The town council as a corporate body is the Trustee of the Armstrong Hall Trust, but this is entirely separate to the role and responsibilities of the town council as a local authority.
“The management of the Armstrong Hall Trust must be kept entirely separate from the business of the town council.
“This is based on charity legislation, appropriate local government governance and expert legal advice received by the council from one of the leading experts in this area.
“Our resources must not be used in the running of the charity and must ensure its governance is in line with legal advice, whether or not this is to the liking of everybody.
“Councillors are not trustees. They are automatically representatives of the Trust, but this is a completely separate duty and role to that of local councillor.
“They meet as representatives of the Trust at Trust meetings, but this is entirely separate to their roles as town councillors and they are not representing the town council as a local authority when acting in this way.
“The town council cannot choose alternative representatives of the Trust under its current constitution.
“Armstrong Hall funds are entirely separate from our funds, and the two are not interchangeable in any appropriate or legal way.
“We reiterate that expert legal advice has been taken to ensure that the council acts appropriately and that the council has no option but to adhere to this.”