Warnings over risks of running town’s Centre

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Garstang Town Councillors have spoken out about the dangers of burdening the town with excessive costs if the council had sought to purchase the Community Centre.

Their comments came as the Council voted at its meeting last week to seek urgent talks with Wyre Council to see if an agreement could be reached to ensure the buildings continue to provide a community function for the town.

First town Mayor Coun Graham Salisbury, Chairman of the council working party set up to consider the possible purchase of the centre, provided some details of its recent activities .

Coun Salisbury said the working party and council had kept private their recent talks with the scouts and guides so they “did not put any pressure” on them over a possible sale.

The scouts and guides declined the invitation to sell their facilities instead.

Councillors had also previously considered a suggestion – included in the working party’s assessment report – that a new look Business Hub could be created at the community centre, which it was predicted could bring in £37,000 per year in office rental income

Coun Gordon Harter warned that for the town council to consider buying, refurbishing, managing and running the centre was: “a big ask and a big risk, a really big risk.”

He added that there was a lot of emotion about the building, but cautioned: “There’s a time when emotionality comes out and practicality kicks in.”

Coun David Williams warned against raising council tax charges.

The Mayor said the working party had also concluded it would be wrong to raise its precept, but stressed: “I will be really sad to lose this building if we do lose it.” Noting the building’s good position he predicted it would be needed in the future as the town developed further.

The Centre was dubbed an underperforming asset by owners Wyre Council and so is a likely candidate for sell-off.