Garstang battle to save community centre hots up

Garstang Community/Business Centre
Garstang Community/Business Centre
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Campaigning local residents are calling on the citizens of Garstang to fight to keep a community centre in the town.

The trio say Garstang should not be the Cinderella of the borough, with Poulton and Fleetwood boasting better community facilities.

We can’t give up and just sleepwalk our way into losing it and, of course, much needed car parking

Marilyn Dobbs

The mini group – formed by members of campaign group Garstang Under Threat – was created following frustration at the outcome of three recent Town Council meetings when the centre’s sale was discussed.

The High Street Community Centre is currently up for sale, with a bid from a “preferred developer”.

But group spokeswoman Marilyn Dobbs believes it it is not too late for a rethink. She said:“We can’t give up and just sleepwalk our way into losing it and, of course, much needed car parking.”

Arguing against apathy she said Garstang should “be the town that wouldn’t lie down and roll over.”

Wyre Borough Council should be made to think again about the future use of the site and “about making huge profits out of Garstang ... .You have to think outside the box.”

Marilyn suggested a new building could be created behind the facade of the original council offices, comprising a swimming pool on the ground floor, a gym on the first floor and community meeting rooms on top and argued this could free up other land for development on the current swimming pool and YMCA leisure centre sites.

She also challenged the Wyre Council’s pegging of Council Taxes, saying that maybe residents wouldn’t mind paying a few more pounds on Council Tax to finance a proper Community centre for use by all the community.

Local resident Mary Randles and newsagent Richard Whyman have joined Marilyn to demand Wyre Council thinks again. Mary said supporters should look at the Garstang Under Threat Facebook page and added: “I suppose we’ll get round to leafleting and posters but we’re a fledgling little group at the moment...”

Wyre Council leader Coun. Peter Gibson said a one per cent increase in Council Tax would raise just £70,000 a year for Wyre and it was not a realistic proposal. The pool was county council owned and Wyre had put the Poulton Youth and Community Centre up for disposal too. He said Fleetwood did not have a Community Centre and when Wyre had recently sold assets the funds raised were not spent in the locality: ”That’s just not what we do.”

The Council’s preferred developer is Keyworker Homes North West which has bid £1.6m for the Centre site and plans to replace it with retail space and 46 apartments and a garden for the elderly, reducing the number of car parking spaces available to the public. Wyre Council is planning to give £150,000 to help fund the completion of the new St Thomas’s church hall as a “community hub”. It has promised local parishes and the Town Council will be able to bid for some funding for community projects.