Legal agreement will spell out community rights to new Garstang Hub but Councillor angry over “bail out” funding

Photo Neil Cross Mayor of Garstang  Coun Graham Salisbury outside the new parish hall/ community hub off Church St, Garstang
Photo Neil Cross Mayor of Garstang Coun Graham Salisbury outside the new parish hall/ community hub off Church St, Garstang
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Garstang Town Council wants to stay in the town centre - despite plans for a new Community Hub at St Thomas’s parish hall.

Town Mayor Coun Graham Salisbury outlined his vision for the council’s future home on Monday night at the monthly Council meeting.

Meanwhile former Mayor, County and Town Councillor Sandra Perkins, revealed she had resigned from St Thomas’s PCC (Parochial Church Council) in fury over vicar the Rev Stephen Grey’s go-it-alone negotiation of the hub deal.

This will see Wyre Council pay for the completion of the stalled St Thomas’ church hall project and in return the hall will be available for use by community groups, including those now based at the about to be sold Wyre Council owned Community and Business Centre on High Street.

Coun. Salisbury says the Town Council needs to get its foot in the door as soon as possible for talks with any future developer of the site the council currently calls home - the Community and Business Centre on High Street.

He believes this could be the way to ensure any future office for the Town Council will still be located on the High Street.

He gave a “broad welcome” to the surprise Community Hub deal, whereby Wyre Council will provide some £150,000 to complete St Thomas’s new parish hall, which is sited behind the vicarage, off Church Street.

But disgruntled Town and County Coun. Sandra Perkins: “Some of you may have heard I’ve resigned from St Thomas’s PCC over this issue. I don’t think public money should be used to bail out a faulty business plan.”

She added: We’ve been promised openess and transparency and I think it’s essential we have those. It’s not a job for a secret society - we need to know exactly what’s going on and when (it’s) going on.”

Coun Perkins was away when the PCC met on March 3 and voted to give the go ahead to the surprise hub proposal brokered between the vicar and Wyre Council.

Coun Salisbury said the new hall “ticked all the boxes” on size and disabled access and facilities before outlining his concerns about where the Town Council office would be located: “I think we need to consider all options....ideally we need an office on the High Street. or close to the High Street so it’s a focal point for members of the public to call in...we should be talking earlier to the developer so we are at least considered as part of the proposal... If we are going to lose parking as is rumoured I think we should also be looking into that as well.”

Coun Peter Ryder had questions on parking, ownership, the new building’s size, flexibility and furnishings,asking: ”Who has first call on it - is it the church or community?”

Wyre Council Cabinet member and Economy portfolio holder Coun Peter Murphy stressed a legal agreement would be negotiated between the council and church and there would be “a full list of legal obligations so users will have tenure of 10/15 years.”

But he stressed: “They (St Thomas’s) will be running it -it’s nothing to do with Wyre.”

He agreed Community Centre’s commercial tenants could contact him with any queries about their future, noting there are plenty of empty commercial premises in Garstang and Nateby. The Courier was unable to contact Rev. Grey for comment. *The mayor also proposed the Town Council’s Community Centre working party be disbanded: ”I personally think this is a big issue we should be debating as a Council on a monthly basis.”