‘We’ll survive this financial disaster’

Centre chairman Peter Wallace, committee member Allan Poulter and ward councillor Don Clapham.
Centre chairman Peter Wallace, committee member Allan Poulter and ward councillor Don Clapham.
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THE committee behind a charity brought to its knees by an alleged fraud scam today said they were determined to survive.

Police launched an investigation after around £60,000 was reportedly stolen from Bispham Community Centre

Despite the Bispham Road charity being left with just £230 in savings and unable to pay ground rent to the council, trustees and the committee have vowed to start afresh.

Trustee Peter Wallace said: “We are going to survive.

“We had to put in new heating and electrics and now we need to bring the decor up to scratch.

“In the short-term we need to raise £4,600 to cover the heating and electricity costs and then we need to make the centre more profitable.

“We need to make it more welcoming and get more groups in using the centre.”

Allan Poulter, site supervisor for the centre, hopes to gather volunteers from the community to help with plans to modernise the building.

He said: “The inside of the building looks tired.

“The wallpaper is coming off and the whole place needs re-painting.

“We need some volunteers, I can’t do it on my own.

“If there are any painters and decorators or joiners or anyone who can lend a hand, we’d be grateful for the help.”

Bispham ward councillors, Coun Don Clapham and Coun Henry Mitchell, had offered the charity £3,000 to help improve the centre. But the cash donation has since been put on hold while the fraud probe continues.

John Donnellon, service director for built environment from Blackpool Council, said: “We are happy to meet with the committee at Bispham Community Centre to look at the new arrangements in place.

“We are aware of the need to get the centre back on a sound financial footing and have arranged to meet the new chairman to discuss how that can be done.

“Our ward councillors are keen to support the community centre and we hope to get it back up and running once we are confident the funding is appropriately accounted for.”

Mr Wallace added: “I’m glad we are going to get the opportunity to sit down with someone from the council and prove to them this is not going to happen again. We are going to plan for recovery.”

Coun Clapham said: “We are confident the centre will not be closing and it can move forward with the new committee.”

“I’m confident Peter will run it nicely with a new committee.”

Anyone who would like to help the centre should call Mr Wallace on 0797 9812142.

A 67-year-old man from Blackpool has been interviewed by police as part of their fraud investigation.