FURIOUS Haslingden residents have called for a historic building to be returned to the hands of the community after it was put up for sale.

The Mary Hindle Resource Centre, which houses several charities including the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, was put up for sale at £250,000 by owners Agapao International last week.

At a public meeting in Rawtenstall’s St Mary’s Chambers, Haslingden MP Graham Jones was among those to voice concerns at the possible sale of the site.

Mr Jones said reclaiming the centre would be a ‘long and hard road’.

He added: “In my mind things are wrong on a number of levels and I would appeal to Agapao not to sell the building until they are legally and morally sure they can do so. The charity is operating like a loose cannon.”

Around 35 people attended the meeting, which was called to decide on a plan of action to try and keep the building for community use and not be sold to a commercial investor.

At one point, former Haslingden councillor Noel O’Brien had to be escorted from the room as tempers frayed after a disagreement with Mr Jones.

None of the trustees of Agapao International, including director Louise Chicot, attended the meeting, despite being invited.

One member of the audience, Clive Williamson, said: “The building must end up back in the hands of the community regardless of what’s gone on up until now.”

Catherine Murphy, who runs Bacup Hub and St Mary’s Chambers, said at least three organisations, including the Sophie Lancaster Foundation were interested in trying to buy the building at a reduced rate.

Ownership of the building was transferred to Agapao in 2009 by the trustees of Community Action for Rossendale.