SOUTHEND’S landmark Kursaal building could be brought back into use after lengthy negotiations – but legal action hasn’t been ruled out if talks with the leaseholders fail.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal ward, took to Facebook yesterday, teasing residents with the suggestion that good news and a positive update could be imminent.

The council owns the freehold of the land but London-based property group AEW has a 200-year lease on the building

Under the terms of the lease, the company must maintain the condition of the building but in recent years it has been left to deteriorate, with smashed windows allowing access for pigeons.

Mr Dent said: “One of the big avenues the council has been pursing recently is the upkeep obligations. There are bits of the building that are not in great shape because they have not done the maintenance they are obliged to.

“I’m told that there has been some movement from the leaseholder on the general terms on which we are negotiating with them. There is nothing definite or certain but given that it feels like we’ve been banging our heads against a brick wall for a while, the fact we are starting to get some response, some attention to progress, is promising.”

The lack of maintenance could give the council grounds to nullify the lease.

Mr Dent, who said he would like the Kursaal opened up to arts groups, said: “It would require going to court. From my perspective, what I would say to the leaseholder is if you are not willing to spend the money to keep the building in the condition it should be in, then you need to surrender the lease back to the council so that we can.

“Their choice is to either spend the money to meet the terms of the lease, or give the lease up.”

He added: “If we were to take them to court, it would be a long expensive process. I don’t think we should rule it out but if there is an alternative, if we can get them to meet their obligations or give up the lease willingly, that would be a better way for us, and a quicker way, so we can get something done with the Kursaal rather than it sitting empty and rotting away.”

AEW was contacted for comment.