Vacant sites won't be left hanging for the Fringe

A NUMBER of buildings formerly used by a now-defunct city charity could be opened up once again to become Fringe venues.

Edinburgh University Settlement (EUS) folded in October last year after going bankrupt, leaving a string of buildings unoccupied in the city.

It has now emerged that "negotiations are ongoing" with potential buyers to sublet the spaces to "experienced Fringe producers", which could see the likes of the Roxy Art House - which closed as a result of the EUS collapse - reopened as an arts venue.

The EUS provided learning opportunities for disadvantaged people across the Capital for more than 100 years, but a bankruptcy order was granted by Edinburgh Sheriff Court at the end of October after the extent of its losses emerged.

The charity operated a number of programmes and commercial enterprises from properties including the Community Learning Centre at Regent Road, Stepping Stones at the Old Fire Station in Norton Road, and the Roxy Art House in Roxburgh Place.

A council spokesman said: "In the past, the Edinburgh University Settlement has successfully operated a number of buildings, like the Forest Cafe and the Roxy, as venues for the Fringe.

"There is potential for the EUS venues to be used during this year's Fringe and we have been informed that negotiations are ongoing with potential purchasers to sublet the spaces to experienced Fringe producers."

The EUS was funded by private and public sector organisations, including the city council, RBS, Edinburgh University and Scottish Screen.

The council's total funding for EUS in 2010-11 was 230,034, which was financed through both the children and families and health and social care budgets.

A report due to go before councillors today highlights the work which has been undertaken to try to cater for the learners left with nowhere to go when the EUS folded.

Out of the people who were on the City Literature and Numeracy (CLAN) and English as a second language projects, 40 learners have been placed elsewhere, with a further 19 to be placed in the next month and the remaining 16 yet to access the alternatives they have been offered.

An EUS tutor was appointed to work with the existing 22 students on the Early Years Sure Start project to complete their certified child development courses. They are expected to be completed this month, however, there are no plans to continue this once the existing students finish their course.

The council owns two of the properties which were used by EUS to provide community services, at Regent Road and East Norton Place.

Both buildings have been secured and are currently unoccupied.

The council is owed rent arrears of 7389 and is therefore one of the EUS' creditors.

No-one from liquidators PricewaterhouseCoopers was available for comment.