CAMPAIGNERS are furious after the site of a popular community centre bulldozed to make way for housing six months ago has still not been built on.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and Coun Jeff Sumner, both Lib Dems, have accused the Labour council of allowing the developers to knock down the Burnley Wood Youth and Community Centre months before it was necessary.
However, Coun Julie Cooper, who was leader of the council in February, when the well-used centre was demolished, said they were left with no option after Lib Dems signed a planning agreement with developers Keepmoat, when the Lib Dems controlled the borough council, in 2010.
Coun Sumner said Keepmoat bosses told him they have no plans to build on the former community centre site in Glebe Street ‘in the foreseeable future’.
He said: “The council ignored our pleas, and the pleas of volunteers and children, to keep it open for as long as possible. It’s been bulldozed for nothing.
“Now we’re talking years and years until they build on there and the children are having to travel to other areas to play sports and activities.
“Keepmoat weren’t even keen on knocking the community centre down – the council told them they had to do it.”
Mr Birtwistle said: “The children of the community have been made to suffer so the Labour councillors can blacken my name, and damage the reputation of other Lib Dem councillors.”
Coun Cooper said when the time came to hand over ownership of the site to Keepmoat, the developers said they were ready to build on it.
She said: “All this had been planned way back in 2007, when Gordon Birtwistle was leader of the council.
“His council voted for more housing in Burnley Wood and chose the developer to do the job.
“It’s a constant frustration to me how long it takes builders to get the job done, but they decide when they build on a site after they’ve got the contract.
“The MP is playing political games. He was the one that made this decision a long time ago, but is blaming Labour now it has proved unpopular with the community.”
Council leader Mark Townsend said: “We knocked the building down when we did because it had been empty for two months and was posing a risk of anti-social behaviour.
"There is community provision for children 200 yards away and I believe it is being well-used.”
No one from Keepmoat was unavailable for comment yesterday.