Merthyr Tydfil community 'let down' by the closure of iconic Redhouse cultural centre

  • ITV Wales' Rural Affairs Correspondent Hannah Thomas speaks to Emma Bush who said "the whole town is let down".

The closure of a cultural centre in Merthyr Tydfil has been met with opposition from locals who fear the impact it will have on the community and have criticised the way in which the closure has happened.

Redhouse Cymru has been a town hall, a council chambers and a magistrates court over the last hundred years, before an £8 million redevelopment with European money turned it into an arts centre.

But over the weekend the venue was shut down due to contract complexities.

Emma Bush, whose son normally has music lessons in the building was left in the dark about the closure.

Redhouse is an arts and creative industries centre located in the Old Town Hall which was restored in recent years at a cost of £8m. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

She said: "It's very frustrating and I'm feeling quite anxious because my son has a music deadline tomorrow. He needs the technical equipment that's inside [the building], in order to finish that project and have it marked... and yet he doesn't know what's happening.

"It's not just the students who have been let down, it's the whole town really, because it's a venue where I go to several theatre performances a year. There's always bands on.. so it's an arts hub for the community and we're losing yet another facility in the town."

  • Councillor Geraint Thomas said "there should be a public inquiry into the matter"

Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust run the services that are held in Redhouse but the building is owned by Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association (MTHA).

The leisure organisation had been in discussions to transfer the business to the housing association but MTHA said they were no longer able to progress with the transfer as it would put their financial sustainability at risk.

The contract complexities are similar to those which confronted Aberfan Community Centre which was recently saved from closure at the eleventh hour.

Chair of Merthyr Tydfil Council Geraint Thomas said: "Unfortunately the college had to move their students out of the Redhouse and they will have to carry out their exams in a different building over the next coming weeks and months until a resolution is resolved.

"It's such a dire state of affairs, I think we should have a public inquiry into the whole of the leisure trust."

"We will support Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association to get a resolution for the building, and a future for the building, while they're in dialogue with Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust. It's just not an iconic Merthyr Tydfil building. It's an iconic building for Wales. You know, it's the centre and heart of our town."

Redhouse is a Grade II listed building — in the heart of Merthyr Tydfil. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

What makes the building so historic?

Redhouse Cymru was built in 1896.

The Old Town Hall was originally the seat of local government, which included the council chamber, magistrates court and holding cells for remand prisoners.

After years of use as a civic building, these services moved elsewhere in 1989.

This left the Old Town Hall vacant.

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association resolved to save the building and when they purchased the Old Town Hall in 2007. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

After a few years, the Old Town Hall had private ownership and was used as a nightclub where it was vandalised and fell into disuse and disrepair.

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association resolved to save the building and they purchased the Old Town Hall in 2007.

Redhouse is a Grade II listed building — in the heart of Merthyr Tydfil.

The iconic centre re-opened to the public on St. David’s Day 2014.

It went through an extensive £8 million revival programme, which was supported by the Welsh Government, European Regional Development Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund & Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in association with Miller Argent.

Dawn Bowden MS stated she had written to MTHA to see "what the future plans are for the Redhouse."

She said: "I very much hope the Redhouse can continue for the benefit of the town and the staff who work there and that the issues identified leading to the closure can be resolved."

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