Community centre in Blackburn is handed to volunteers

First published in Blackburn

THE transfer of Mill Hill Community Centre to a volunteer management committee by Blackburn with Darwen Council has been completed.

It is the eighth of nine such buildings to be handed over to local groups by the local auth-ority.

Now borough Tory leader Mike Lee wants to know why the much larger Bangor Street Community Centre, in Roe Lee, remains to be transferred to complete the programme.

He wants council leisure chief Damian Talbot to ‘pull his finger out’ and get the final handover under way.

The council has kept the library and neighbourhood office in the Mill Hill centre, paying a nominal four-figure rent to the new bosses to cushion the cost of overheads as its subsidy is phased out over four years.

Now the management committee is seeking more volunteers to run the centre after the departure of all local authority staff.

Local volunteers staff the reception, handling inquiries, taking bookings, polishing floors, and cleaning.

Coun Lee welcomed the transfer, but asked why it is taking so long to include Bangor Street.

He said: “I welcome this transfer as the latest stage in a programme we started. I want to know why we are giving the new management committees a four-year parachute payment, and why it is taking so long to transfer Bangor Street

“The council needs to pull its finger out.”

Coun Talbot, said: “This is all down to the community spirit, hard work, and dedication, of the volunteers who have decided to go the extra mile so the centre stays open. Hopefully we will see even more residents in the area stepping forward to maintain the service it provides.

“Bangor Street is much larger and more complicated. We now have a committee in place to start the process, but we are not setting any timescales.

“The four-year phasing out of council support is to give the time for the new volunteer groups to get things sorted.”

The current four volunteers are seeking others to help with day-to-day maintenance.

Residents interested in volunteering at the centre are being encouraged to help out as often as they can, if only for a couple of hours a day.

Susan Freear, who used to work at the centre, said: “I had grown very attached to the centre and didn’t want to see it close, so I decided to volunteer for the job I used to do working for the council.”

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