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Wetherspoon to take over Edinburgh’s Picture House

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS

CALLUM MOUAT - BAR SUPERVISOR AT THE HMV PICTUREHOUSE , MUSIC VENUE ON LOTHIAN ROAD EDINBURGH.

UNHAPPY AND HAD STARTED A PETITION WITH OVER 2000 SIGNATURES , AT THE PLAN TO SELL THE BUILDING AND TURN IT INTO A PUB.

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS CALLUM MOUAT - BAR SUPERVISOR AT THE HMV PICTUREHOUSE , MUSIC VENUE ON LOTHIAN ROAD EDINBURGH. UNHAPPY AND HAD STARTED A PETITION WITH OVER 2000 SIGNATURES , AT THE PLAN TO SELL THE BUILDING AND TURN IT INTO A PUB.

IT has echoed to the sounds of artists such as Pink Floyd and Queen and over the decades . . . but the city’s iconic Picture House now to join a pub chain famous for its lack of music.

JD Wetherspoon last night confirmed the Picture House in Lothian Road will become its latest superpub – once the venue closes at the end of the month.

The news was greeted with anger by Capital music fans, with an online petition opposed to the change clocking up nearly 3000 signatures in a matter of minutes. International music star Amanda Palmer, Edinburgh songstress Nina Nesbitt and BBC Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway all back the petition.

Callum Mouat, 22, who has worked as a bar supervisor at the Picture House for 18 months, said he was amazed by the response to the call to arms he issued yesterday afternoon.

Callum, who lives in Baberton, said: “It was a huge shock to the staff and the management when we discovered the Picture House was to be sold.

“So many fantastic artists have played there, and it had been a dream of mine that my own band, The Winter Tradition, would one day grace the stage.

“It’s one of the biggest venues in Edinburgh, and there’s already a real shortage of decent places for bands to come and play here.

“Now we’re going to see more and more people forced to travel to Glasgow to see their favourite artists. I felt like I should try to do something, but I’ve been totally blown away by the support the petition has received.”

However, a spokesman for JD Wetherspoon, which already owns 13 sites around Edinburgh and the Lothians, said that while the firm was aware of the petition, it was “extremely unlikely” the Picture House would continue as a live music venue.

He said: “Our aim is to develop it into a Wetherspoon pub, though at present there is no opening date.

“We do not have live music in any of our pubs, so it is extremely unlikely that live music will continue once it reopens. However, we are always prepared to listen to the ­arguments and to discuss it further.”

It is understood that ­Wetherspoon will be required to apply to planners to change the use of the establishment before opening it as a licensed premises.

Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trading Association, said he feared reopening of the site as a Wetherspoons would exacerbate the problem of over-provision of licensed premises in the Capital.

He said: “The general consensus is that the company already has far too many places in Edinburgh, leading to problems with over-provision.

“Another bar on this ­massive site will create further ­over-provision problems and put more downward pressure on prices, leading to alcohol abuse.”

Celebrities throw their weight behind campaign

AMANDA Palmer, partner of author Neil Gaiman and former singer in The Dresden Dolls, used her Twitter account to forward the petition to keep the Picture House as a live music venue to her 977,000 followers after adding her own signature.

Edinburgh’s own Nina Nesbitt, pictured left,whose 2014 gig at the Lothian Road venue has been cancelled because of the change of ownership, also signed the petition, and shared it with her 128,000 Twitter followers.

BBC Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway was one of the first to throw his weight behind the movement, sending the petition to his 11,000 followers, saying: “Want The Picture House in Edinburgh to stay a music venue rather than turn into a pub? I thought so. Sign this.”

 

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