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Haslingden residents hope to vote out trustees to save community centre
RESIDENTS have vowed to take over a charity at the centre of an investigation to allow them to save their community centre.
The Save The Mary Hindle Centre group met in Haslingden on Monday and vowed to join Agapao International, set up to deliver aid to Africa. The move would allow residents to vote the trustees out at the next AGM.
Agapao owns the former Mary Hindle Centre, in Bury Road, Haslingden, but residents were outraged last year when the charity put the centre up for sale.
Residents’ want to return the centre to the community, four years after it was gifted to the charity by trustees of Community Action for Rossendale.
The building was restored using £300,000 of taxpayers’ and lottery money. Agapao, which the charity said means ‘I love you, unconditionally’, is under investigation by the Charities Commission, which expressed concerns about its management and governance and its involvement with community station Rossendale Radio, which is no longer operating.
The residents’ group is also considering filing a Community Right to Bid order on the former Mary Hindle Centre, using powers brought in last year to ‘pause’ the sale of community buildings, to give them enough time to develop a bid to buy them.
It is hoped a six-month grace period would give the group time to gather enough Agapao ‘members’ carry out a takeover and the group has enough signatures to trigger the order, it is believed.
Haslingden and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones led Monday’s meeting at St Mary’s Football Club, South Shore Street.
He said: “I want to see the centre returned to the people of Haslingden.
“Agapao was expected to hold an AGM before the end of November. We can attend and vote. If it’s the will of the members to vote out the trustees then so be it.
“The task is enormous but if we get around 400 people we might be able to call an AGM.”
Clive Williamson attended the meeting and said: “It’s about time we dived in with two feet.”
And Peter Sweetmore added: “I’m convinced most of the names are not trustees any more. They have been written to but not replied.”
Nobody from Agapao International attended the meeting. Despite several attempts to contact the charity, nobody could be reached for comment yesterday.
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