Two community buildings in Penwortham have been kept open thanks to a community council.Advertisement
Penwortham Library and the town’s Young People’s Centre were both earmarked for closure due to Lancashire County Council cutbacks.
The Town Council has stepped in to take on running both the buildings, with a 40p per month increase in council tax for Penwortham residents to keep the doors open.
The county council has agreed to sign over the two buildings and also give the Town Council a £5,000 cheque to kick start the use of the buildings.
Penwortham town centre manager Steve Caswell said the town council’s proposal represented good value for money.
He said: “We intend to carry on running the Youth and Community Centre exactly as it is at the moment, as a hub for the local community.
“We will enhance it though with the inclusion of a community library manned by volunteers.
“The library building we are hoping to convert into a small community theatre showing local plays and films. We hope to have a small area set aside for local historical or other local interest displays.”
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The precept, an additional charge on council tax for Penwortham residents, will rise for the first time in seven years to accommodate the two new buildings.
Mr Caswell said: “A Band D property will now pay around 40p a month extra. We think that’s good value for keeping these buildings open.”
The Town Council had to submit a business case for running the two buildings to the county council, who signed it off along with an annual grant of £1,000 for the buildings to continue providing public internet access.
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Deputy leader for the county council councillor David Borrow said: “Through our property strategy we are making sure we have the buildings we need to provide good access to good services, while making some of the huge savings we need make due to ongoing government cuts and rising demand for services.
“We received more than 60 business cases from community groups interested in taking over a variety of buildings and have been considering those proposals very carefully. We have been particularly taking into account the longer term sustainability of what is being proposed, and the buildings’ market value, bearing in mind that asset transfer will mean forgoing funds which could be raised by selling them.
“This is a time-consuming process but we have a duty to do things properly. I’m very pleased that we have been able to take this decision, in principle, to hand over two more buildings, this time to Penwortham Town Council, and make a decision on a further four buildings we no longer need.”
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