A TAUNTON resident has asked the town council to support his community group’s aim to turn a historic building into a “prime music venue”.

Chris Waddilove is proposing to turn the Gaumont Palace, which now hosts Mecca Bingo, into a venue for concerts.

Mr Waddilove is part of Citizens Somerset, a community group that would need to raise £5m – £2m to buy the building from Somerset Council, and 3m to refurbish it – to complete the project.

He also added Mecca Bingo’s lease ends in 2027.

Mr Waddilove said “there is a gap in the arts provision” in Taunton and added: “80 per cent of the people who live in our town who would like to attend live concerts and gigs, would be looking in vain.

“Apart from Brewhouse, the summer events at Vivary Park, and the cricket ground, there is nothing. This is a dire situation.

“But I’m not here to be negative. I am here with a message of hope. There is a building that could become a prime music venue we so desperately need.

“It’s the Gaumont Palace, built in 1932, with a seating capacity of 1,200.”

He also added that many famous bands, like The Beatles, played at the venue back in the 60s and the 70s.

He said that “it would take little money by today’s standards to refurbish” the building.

Mr Waddilove also said: “I am a member of a community group which is due to become a Community Benefit Trust and continue to secure this building for the community.

“We do not expect money from the council, we know we need to raise the money ourselves, £2m to buy it, and £3m to refurbish it.

“Mecca Bingo lease ends in 2027, which gives us time to raise the money we need.

“We ask you [Taunton Town Council] to come behind us to make this beautiful building part of the community.”

Mr Waddilove also said that “there will be room for both Gaumont and whatever Firepool produces” as “this county town needs both”.

Cllr Tom Deakin, leader of Taunton Town Council, said: “Arts are important for the community. There’s a huge amount going on, but we can always ask for more.

“I agree with you, we are missing something in the town. We are limited in the actions we can take practically to help you right now.

“It’s an asset owned by Somerset Council. There is a tenant whose lease could be extended for 10 years.”

Cllr Deakin suggested logging an asset of community value as an option the community group may want to explore.

He also added: “On the purchase price, I would love to hear about where you have heard that purchase price from. It’s certainly not a number that I’ve been aware of.

“Thank you for what you’re doing. I do agree there is a gap and something more that we need and I hope we can get there in the future.”