Key talks on future of Garstang’s FIG Tree Fair Trade Centre

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Wyre Council has pledged to help find a “community solution” to concerns over the future of Garstang Business Centre.

The council, which owns the building, has attended meetings over the past few weeks with Garstang Town Council and two of the centre’s tenants, The FIG Tree Fair Trade centre and Easy Web Sites Ltd.

Under discussion was whether the building could be eligible for a community asset transfer or buy-out, the first of its kind in Wyre. This follows a call by Fig Tree director Bruce Crowther for supporters from home and abroad to buy shares to enable The Fig Tree to buy-out the premises.

He believes this would secure the long term future of the Fair Trade centre which is internationally renowned.

The council has confirmed the building is under review as part of their asset management plan, having failed to deliver “a sufficient rate of return”.

Garstang Town Council is now set to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the centre’s future.

Wyre Council has pledged to help find a “community solution” to concerns over the future of Garstang Business Centre.

The council, which owns the building, has attended meetings over the past few weeks with Garstang Town Council and two of the centre’s tenants, The FIG Tree Fair Trade centre and Easy Web Sites Ltd.

Under discussion was whether the building could be eligible for a community asset transfer or buy-out, the first of its kind in Wyre. This follows a call by Fig Tree director Bruce Crowther for supporters from home and abroad to buy shares to enable The Fig Tree to buy-out the premises.

He believes this would secure the long term future of the Fair Trade centre which is internationally renowned.

The council has confirmed the building is under review as part of their asset management plan, having failed to deliver “a sufficient rate of return”.

Garstang Town Council is now set to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the centre’s future.

Mr Crowther, director of The Fig Tree, this week revealed just how much it might cost to buy the High Street building housing their premises.

He said that FIG Tree directors hoped to raise £300,000 to finance a community buy-out of the council owned building, which is due for an “asset review” by Wyre Council on October 23.

The building used to house Garstang’s Discovery tourism centre and council offices. It ceased its Council role in 2005 and Mr Crowther believes it unlikely that the Council will renew The FIG Tree lease, which is due for renewal in November 2014.

He said he now hoped the Council would take “positive action” adding: “As yet the amount needed to purchase the premises is still unknown, but we aim to raise around £300,000.”

Councillor Alan Vincent, Cabinet member with responsibility for asset management at Wyre Council, said the Council had a duty to get a commercial return from all its investments, including buildings.

“We will explore opportunities with the tenants as to the best way forward, but the best interests of our council taxpayers has to be at the forefront of our minds when we are having that conversation.”

A community asset transfer would allow a community or voluntary group to take ownership of the building on a leased or similar basis, whereas a buy-out would see it purchased outright.

Garstang Town Council has also resolved that it will work with the Fig Tree and all the tenants to determine the options available. An extraordinary meeting of Garstang Town Council has been set for Monday 7th October at 7pm to consider these options.In the Courier of September 9 we revealed that The FIG Tree was fighting to secure its future with a plan for a major change of statusfrom a community interest company to a co-operative. Shares would be available for purchase with investments of £40 - £20,000 invited.