MelloMello will need to find £30,000 a year if it is to stay open after Liverpool City Council scrapped the venue’s business rates relief.
As a not-for-profit social enterprise, MelloMello says it will need to find an additional £30,000 per annum to cover the increase, having previously enjoyed 80% relief on its business rates. The venue says that the decision by the council throws its future into doubt.
Once a fairly horrible vertical drinking bar and subsequently a derelict building in Ropewalks for some years, MelloMello has become something of a community (dare we say ‘bohemian’?) focal point in Liverpool city centre, hosting music gigs, poetry readings, improv comedy, exhibitions and even knitting classes.
It is also one of a very small number of vegetarian restaurants in the city, with vegans and gluten intolerants also well catered for. There’s also a bemusing but winning selection of various boozy drinks, to boot, including MelloMello’s own beer (that’s vegan-friendly too).
The Parr Street venue also hosts several small businesses and claims to support up to 20 employees with no funding, investment or sponsorship. Facilities include a music studio, rehearsal spaces, a dance studio and office space.
MelloMello says that the council’s decision to scrap the 80% discretionary business rates relief will cast doubt on its future and represents the council’s “continued cultural indifference and a blatant lack of desire to support the city’s grassroots artists, musicians and creative businesses”.
The venue has received rates relief for the past two years and says that it “easily meets the majority” of the Council’s criteria for relief, but the council says that MelloMello needs to increase its revenue.
Those behind the venue say that the council has not entered into a discussion as to why MelloMello no longer qualifies for rates relief, other than indicating that the venue is “[not aligned] to the current high priorities of the City Council”.
MelloMello says that the decision could result in local artists and musicians being priced out of the market without vital facilities and services, should the venue be forced to close, and is calling on supporters to make their feelings known by signing petitions and joining campaign pages and accounts online.
We hope this doesn’t mean the beginning of the end for MelloMello – the sort of venue that really enriches Liverpool. And while we recognise the need to save cash and prioritise council resources, we’d look askance at the amount of closed or derelict lesiure and retail spaces in the city centre and ponder whether 20% business rates are better than none.
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