Half a year to prepare centre “business case”

Bruce Crowther director ofThe Fig Tree Fair Trade Visitor Centre and Cafe in Garstang.
Bruce Crowther director ofThe Fig Tree Fair Trade Visitor Centre and Cafe in Garstang.

Garstang’s Town and Community Centre was this week at the centre of a row over “secret” talks and the time it will take to decide its future.

Wyre Council and Garstang Town Council yesterday issued a statement noting the two bodies had recently held a “very positive meeting” on the future of the centre.

They said: “The town council will spend the next six months or so developing a full business case to buy the building at an agreed market price.

“They will make a final decision on whether they wish to proceed by early December.”

But the time-frame has been lambasted by Bruce Crowther, chief executive of the centre’s main tenant, The FIG Tree Fairtrade Centre, as quite possibly too little, too late.

He launched an attack on the “behind-closed doors” discussions which will affect the future of this community amenity, saying talks should be held with public input and The Fig Tree had also wanted to consider possibly purchasing its premises.

A furious Bruce warned The FIG Tree could now be forced to relocate, as its lease runs out in November.

He said: “It’s going to take to December before it’s even decided whether they can buy the building? If we have to move we have to look for premises now.”

Coun Peter Gibson, Wyre Council leader, said in the councils’ joint statement: “We are fully supportive of a proposed transfer of the building to the community and we anticipate a number of equally productive meetings between ourselves and the town council in the meantime.”

He added residents would be regularly updated “so we can avoid misinformation being circulated by people who are not involved in our discussions. Rumours, however well meaning, are not helpful and we are determined not to let them undermine the good relationship that exists between the two councils.”

The Centre is currently designated an Asset of Community Value,