MP backs move to keep centre open

Ben Wallace Preston North and Wyre MP
Ben Wallace Preston North and Wyre MP
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A Fylde coast MP has waded into the debate over a market town’s under-threat community centre – saying it must be saved.

Wyre MP Ben Wallace has suggested Garstang Town Council should consider a public-private partnership to ensure the community retains some use of the site, off High Street.

The centre has been marketed for sale by Wyre Council, which has named it an underperforming asset.

Described as Garstang Business Centre, it is offered for sale freehold with redevelopment/alternative use potential, subject to planning permission.

Garstang town councillors have been debating for months about how and if they could buy the centre.

And Mr Wallace’s comments were reported to a council meeting this week by town Mayor Coun Graham Salisbury.

It followed a meeting with Coun Salisbury, Coun Dulcie Atkins and town clerk Edwina Parry last week, when the MP was shown the centre.

The meeting was, said the mayor, “held to discuss the future of this building and how we could possibly work towards keeping all or part of it for the community”.

“Ben tabled some ideas based on the Hornby Community Centre. He was just floating ideas where we might partner with a developer and various other ideas.”

The mayor said he will now contact members of the council’s community centre working party, with a “view to seeing how we can progress some of these ideas then take a mandate forward”.

The suggestion comes just days after leading centre tenant, The Fig Tree Fair Trade Centre, closed its doors. Its director Bruce Crowther had long argued for a community buy-out, and claims the move was forced on him because of uncertainty over the centre’s future.

Wyre Council has said expressions of interest and intended use for the site must be submitted to the authority by Friday, November 28.

The town council and other interested groups have until next month to make their own offer for the centre, following its listing by Wyre Council as an asset of community value.

But Wyre Council is not obliged to accept any such offer.