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Electric Group begins legal action to take control of The Leadmill

By | Published on Thursday 13 July 2023

The Leadmill

The Electric Group has confirmed that it has begun legal proceedings against the current management team at Sheffield venue The Leadmill. The live music firm originally planned to start directly running the venue it acquired back in 2017 earlier this year, but The Leadmill’s current team have so far resisted moves to evict them from the premises while running a high profile ‘Save The Leadmill’ campaign.

The current management team announced in March last year that they had been given a deadline of one year to vacate the premises. They then launched their campaign, backed by numerous artists, calling on the Electric Group to change its plans and allow the current team to remain in place.

For its part, the Electric Group – which already runs venues in London, Bristol and Newcastle – has hit back, accusing the current Leadmill team of misleading people into thinking that the venue is set to close, when the plan is for the building to continue to operate as a venue, but under a new management team.

With the current team still in situ after the March 2023 deadline to vacate passed – and with that team still booking future shows into 2024 – legal proceedings seemed inevitable. And, reports the Sheffield Star, legal action is now underway. That should reach court early next year and, if successful, the current management team would then have three months to leave the building.

Electric Group CEO Dominic Madden is quoted by the Star as saying: “The Leadmill management’s lease is protected under the Landlord And Tenant Act, which means that it can only be brought to an end by a hearing. If we are successful at that hearing, [the current leaseholder] would have three months to vacate the premises. We think the hearing is likely to be heard in 2024, but we hope for the first quarter”.

In terms of the current Leadmill team, it has mainly been General Manager Ian Lawlor who has spoken out against The Electric Group. Although the actual leaseholder is businessman Phil Mills.

Again commenting on the ‘Save The Leadmill’ campaign, which he calls “toxic”, Madden also told the Star: “Mills is very upset because he has profitable businesses coming to an end and he’s just trying to cause as much difficulty as possible. He’s trying to present me as a mainstream nightclub operator, who doesn’t understand the cultural significance of The Leadmill”.

But that’s not true, Madden added. Expanding on his company’s plans for the venue, he went on: “We intend to recruit a team from Sheffield, we intend to continue to run all the community engagement projects that they do at the moment, we will continue to run the studios that are set above the venue. The new version of the Leadmill will be almost seamlessly similar to the existing operations”.

Although the ‘Save The Leadmill’ campaign has seemed to garner a lot of support along the way, Madden said: “From the conversations I’ve had locally, with the local authority, with political leadership, and all kinds of other people in the region, once people realised that the Leadmill wasn’t closing, albeit that the management might be changing, people said ‘oh, OK, that’s fine’”.

He continued: “We’re good people, and we actually bought the venue to protect it from being redeveloped. Every city has its own peculiar, weird and wonderful handwriting, and the venues need to reflect that. We don’t run a chain of venues. We’re not the O2 Academy”.

“What we intend to do is continue to allow the venue to evolve. When people come into the Leadmill when it reopens, I’m hoping that it will be curiously, incredibly similar to the existing version, but some of the facilities may be upgraded”.

The current Leadmill management team are yet to comment on these latest developments.