New lease of life for hub of community

Peter Wallace, trustee at Bispham Community Centre, which is undergoing redecorating work.
Peter Wallace, trustee at Bispham Community Centre, which is undergoing redecorating work.
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A CRUMBLING community centre, which found itself at the heart of a fraud probe, has been given a new lease of life thanks to renovation work by volunteers and community leaders.

Bispham Community Centre was left in dire straits after around £60,000 allegedly went missing from accounts earlier this year.

But now the centre has been redecorated ahead of the festive season after Bispham councillors Don Clapham and Henry Mitchell donated part of their ward budget towards painting materials.

The pair gave £200 towards the centre, which has been redecorated by an unemployed painter and decorator as well as members of Blackpool’s community pay back team.

Coun Clapham said: “We set it all up and thought it was a good idea to pay back the community in one respect, and secondly it sped up the redecoration which was needed.

“It’ll be fine for Christmas and it was money well spent.”

Following the revelations about its finances, the charity was left with just £230 in savings and unable to pay ground rent to Blackpool Council.

But Coun Clapham now believes things are firmly looking up for the centre,

He said: “They had a fair last weekend which was very well attended and it was just lovely to see the building being used , vibrant and people pouring through the doors.

“It’s not often that as local councillors you get that rate of success so quickly, to see the public using the building is great.

“We’re delighted and if there’s anything else they need in future we’ll be there to help them financially.”

Peter Wallace, trustee at the centre, has overseen much of the work, which has been carried out in the past week.

He said: “The council has been the best help we’ve had, particularly Don Clapham. The work’s been fine and all these people have rallied round, so it’s turned into a community thing again.

“Everybody’s benefiting in their own little way and people are coming into the centre commenting on how nice and clean it looks.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman said fraud investigations into the centre’s accounts were ongoing.

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