Call for a Garstang hub at St Thomas’s new church hall

Partnership working? Rev. Stephen Grey shows councillors and local MP Ben Wallace a work in progress - the new St Thomas's Church Hall.
Partnership working? Rev. Stephen Grey shows councillors and local MP Ben Wallace a work in progress - the new St Thomas's Church Hall.

A former vicarage garden is being tipped as the likely location for a new Community Hub for Garstang.

Wyre MP Ben Wallace, Wyre Council leader Coun Peter Gibson and Garstang’s three Wyre councillors made an unannounced visit to the town’s doomed Community Centre last week - and then went on to view work in progess on another community building - the long awaited and incomplete St Thomas’s Church Hall.

The meeting was called as concern escalated across town about the future of services ranging from youth club and WRVS to a local dancing school which are all based at the Community and Business Centre off High Street which Wyre Council agreed to sell at its last Cabinet meeting.

Now local councillors have suggested a partnership deal Garstang Councillors Lady Dulcie Atkins, Tom Balmain and Alice Collinson called their top brass to seek a solution to the challenge thrown down by Wyre Council by town mayor Graham Salisbury at its last Cabinet meeting. .. come up with alternative and costed plans for a new community centre if you’re closing our old one.

The local MP Ben Wallace and council leader Coun. Peter Gibson had their own tour of two controversial sites in the town as local councillors revealed their eleventh hour suggestion for progress.

Coun Tom Balmain said :“We made the problems and concerns of local people crystal clear to both of them and we were reassured by Cllr Gibson that Wyre Council would do nothing to the detriment of Garstang residents.”

The group met St Thomas’s vicar, Rev. Stephen Grey at the incomplete replacement St Thomas’s church hall behind his Church Street vicarage.

The chuch’s former hall, which neighbours the Tithebarn, is currently up for sale and progress on the new has been delayed by an ongoing lack of funds.

It had been hoped that sale of the old hall would fund the new, but planning permission was only recently obtained to convert the old hall for residential use.

The local Wyre councillors are now suggesting that the hall could be jointly funded by church and council and become Garstang’s new Community Hub.

Coun Alice Collinson said “We were pleased by Rev. Grey’s warm reaction to our idea and we will press this option firmly with the Council leadership as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Wallace and the councillors also lobbied Coun Gibson, to create a Wyre Rural Commission to investigate local needs and resources, taking evidence from local residents, community groups and businesses, and publishing its conclusions and recommendations as soon as possible.

Coun. Lady Atkins said: ”This detailed investigation will examine the facts and give the area’s residents the opportunity to speak their minds and be heard.”

Coun Gibson said:”I think it really is a move forward.”

It’s expected a further announcement will be made by Wyre Council before the end of the week on funding proposals.

Members of the St Thomas Parochial Church Council were due to be advised of the surprise scheme last night.

Wyre Council votes on its budget plans for the year ahead on Thursday evening .The Courier was unable to contact Rev. Grey.