A THEATRE society which brings West End shows to Bolton fears it could be pushed out of the Albert Halls as the borough braces itself for the biggest ever cost-cutting programme.

BCMS, a Bolton amateur dramatic society is urging Town Hall chiefs to back the groups which use the venue as they consider the future of the halls.

Bolton Council has put forward proposals to save just under £40 million in a year, and as part of that the local authority is seeking to make all but possibly one member off staff at the Albert Halls redundant ­— and operate the historic venue differently to save £125,000.

BCMS, which stages big shows at the venue, said they were not formally told that the operation of the Albert Halls was under review.

The society, which has a thriving youth section, says it understands that covid has had a massive financial impact ­— but add its productions also boost the local economy, in encouraging people to the town, with the society teaming up with restaurants to offer theatre dining packages.

Neville Grady, secretary of BCMS, said: "We were all hoping to be able to stage Shrek this October, after having to abandon it last year because of covid.

"But now the council has thrown a spanner into the works with its proposals. Personally I don't know what the plans are, it has been mentioned that it will be turned over to a private company to run, but we all know what happens then, the costs go up.

"It is a big concern. Farnworth Performing Arts also use the Albert Halls and other organisations."

In recent years, BCMS have staged sell out performances of Sister Act, Grease and Oliver.

Mr Grady said it would be a "big loss" if amateur-dramatic groups were no longer able to stage productions.

"There is no where else in Bolton where we can perform shows like Shrek," he said, "“I sometimes wonder whether the council appreciate exactly what asset they have got in Bolton as far as the amateur theatre is concerned.

"We won’t be able to do the ambitious projects that we would like to do like Shrek. Oliver and Sister Act were a resounding success, people told us they were looking forward to the next one. Shows like this bring a lot to the people of Bolton."

BCMS fought to be able to stage shows on the Albert Halls, after the multi-million pound restoration of the building left am-dram groups fearing they would be priced out.

A council spokesperson said: "The Albert Halls are an asset to our borough and its future viability is a priority for the council.

“However, the council's difficult financial position as a result of Covid-19 means we are having to look again at many of the services we provide.

“The pandemic has hit Bolton's cultural sector hard. How we operate the Albert Halls, and what this will mean for all users, is being considered as part of our ongoing budget review but it’s important to stress that no decisions have been made – and it’s still possible Albert Halls could be removed from the list of proposed budget savings.

“Proposals for budget savings are currently the subject of a consultation, which both local residents and council employees have had the opportunity to respond to."