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Burnley residents were ‘told lies’ claim
A BITTER row over a closure-threatened community centre in Burnley has exploded with calls for a fresh investigation into its demise.
Four Liberal Democrat councillors – Jeff Sumner, Neil Mottershead, Tracy Kennedy and Jennifer Knowles – staged a town hall walkout during a powderkeg council debate on Burnley Wood Youth and Community Centre.
Coun Sumner claimed the authority’s Labour leadership, supported by senior council officers, had ‘lied’ to residents over the Glebe Street building and called for a full and report into his allegations.
Labour insists the agreement to demolish the centre was made by the Lib Dems, when they controlled the council in 2007, as part of regeneration plans for Burnley Wood, with development partner Keepmoat.
Burnley’s Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle said while the site did form part of an ‘over-arching agreement’ for the area, the authority was still required by law to advertise the disposal of such a community venue before it was handed to Keepmoat.
Later it was confirmed that the Lib Dems are considering mounting a legal challenge on the matter if the centre's disposal is not reconsidered. The lease on the building runs out next month.
Council leader Julie Cooper said the Lib Dems had ‘started the ball rolling’ concerning the centre's fate in 2007 and when it came to a full council meeting in 2010, every councillor had supported its removal. Borough chief executive Steve Rumbelow said: “I reject in its entirety the allegation that has been made against me and my staff and I would expect to see the 'evidence' provided to me for this to be properly refuted.”
Criticising both parties’ behaviour, Tory councillor Cosima Towneley said: “I have never been so ashamed by the actions in this chamber tonight. I thought I would never had to see grown-ups, shouting across the chamber like schoolchildren.
“An allegation has been made and it must be quite easy to find the paperwork and the timeline of where this decision came from.
“Why can this not be produced?”
Council officials are adamant that the proper legal procedures have been complied with concerning the disposal of the centre.
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