With Garstang’s new parish and community hub almost finished, according to reverend Stephen Grey, Wyre Council Leader Peter Gibson is lifting the lid on what happen to Wyre’s contribution.
In March 2015, the council offered £150,000 to help St Thomas’ new church hall become a ‘community hub’ but the money never materialised, leaving many wondering where it went.
But at the time the church was also selling its hall and coun Gibson says the council’s money wasn’t needed.
“The church is in the Diocese of Blackburn and we thought they received the money from the sale of the church hall,” he said. “We offered the money to help fund the hub but it was never a gift, it would have come with conditions. We don’t play hard and fast with council tax payer’s money.”
A spokesman for the diocese said the church paid for the land on which the hall was built and so any money from the sale would belong to St Thomas’.
Coun Gibson said: “We asked the church to get quotes for the work and to come back to us so we could look at the budget and find the money. It was never in a pot anywhere, we needed to find it, once we knew how much it would cost. The church never came back to us and we knew the sale of the hall covered the cost of building work, so presumed they no longer needed the money. The church have not come back to us to say otherwise and now have almost completed the work on the new parish and community hub, which will be a fantastic asset to Garstang. Garstang will now have a fantastic facility which is good for Garstang and good for the council tax payer.”
The church never came back to us and we knew the sale of the hall covered the cost of building work, so presumed they no longer needed the moneyCouncil leader
The Courier tried to speak to reverend Stephen Grey but he was unavailable for comment.
And Coun Gibson believes Garstang now has “the best of both worlds” in terms of space for the community.
“Keyworker Homes haven’t submitted their plans for the business centre nor has it been accepted,” he said. “But if it was, the community space they have allocated is bigger than what is there now. Combine that with the community space being built in St Thomas’ Church, there’s going to be more space for community groups than ever before which will be brilliant for the locals of the town and its council.”