Debate over future of West Craven community centre

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THE possibility of Coates Community Centre being reopened to the public is still dividing councillors.

In July, Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee asked for a report on the centre to see if there was a demand for it to be reinstated. Councillors had disagreed over whether it was appropriate to earmark £5,000 of the committee’s annual funding to help regeneration.

The centre was closed in 2008 when it was found essential work to the kitchen, heating and electrics costing £20,000 were needed. At the time the only regular activity was a bingo session.

Localities officer Gill Dickson reported to the committee that 150 surveys had been distributed around Coates estate. A total of 33 surveys were returned (22%) with 84% of those saying they would like the centre to reopen. Seven residents said they would be interested in helping to open the centre, with five willing to take on supporting roles.

She said: “There is general support to reinstate the centre. However, it is increasingly apparent any work to open and operate the centre will be long term and require significant resources in the aspiration for a resident management committee is to be met.

“The use of the centre will also need to generate enough to cover running costs and a business case needs to be developed to establish whether this is or not feasible.”

All three Coates ward councillors have expressed concern about reopening the centre. Coun. Marjorie Adams, a key figure at the centre for years, said she would love to see it open but was worried building owner Housing Pendle would not wait forever for a decision.

Coun. Lindsay Gaskell said: “There are all these ideas, but who is actually going to do this? Is 25 different types of community centres in West Craven not enough to be focusing on at this hard time? Everything is being closed down.

“Is it time to regenerate something that might not get up and running? Or put money back into something already running. To get five people who may want to help out isn’t a lot.

“We struggle at the Rainhall Centre for volunteers. There’s no community spirit with things like that any more. I really don’t think it is the time or place to be putting the effort in. I am sad as I live on Coates but I think it is a lost cause.”

Coun. Janine Throupe said: “As far as I am concerned with this whole idea, it would be great to see it happen but you can’t force it to happen. You can throw as much money at something as you want. I want to know what people are going to do and how they are going to do it.”

Committee chairman Coun. Morris Horsfield said the commitment of a few volunteers should never be underestimated.

“Only three people have run the Lead Mining Museum for 40 years. It is hard work at times and we have to put a lot into it. It doesn’t happen over night. If there are some people willing to help, I think they deserve the chance to try.”

The committee resolved to hold a meeting between all interested parties.