TWO vital venues in the heart of Burnley have been saved thanks to the efforts of community stalwarts and now supporters have big plans for their futures.

County council bosses have announced that the former Pike Hill library, in Langwyth Road, is set to be transferred to the Veterans Association UK (VAUK).


And the Belmont Community Association is scheduled to take over the Belmont Grove community centre where their activities programme is based, from the authority.

The projects have been confirmed as Lancashire County Council seeks to reduce the number of buildings it owns and runs, to make major savings.

Tony Hayes, chief executive of VAUK, said: "It is an ideal situation for us and we have agreed in principle to this, subject to discussions with our finance director.

"The building is around twice the size of our current home in Springfield Road and will give far more scope to develop what we have to offer."

He has asked one of his colleagues, Rosemary Wilson, a former teacher, to oversee the running of a part-time community library, three days a week.

First formed in Burnley in 2012, the association now has a national presence, with volunteer co-ordinators from Cornwall to Scotland.

Not only does it support veterans with employment, housing and benefit issues but it has also become a seasoned campaigner for those left with post-traumatic stress disorder and is currently lobbying the government for amendments to the community covenant for ex-soldiers.

Volunteers with Belmont Community Association, which offers a lifeline to people in Brunshaw and beyond, has ambitions to make their community centre flourish.

Howard Eccles, who has been association chairman for 40 years, said: "The hard work starts now for us but we're looking forward to it.

"We have quite a number of activities at present - but nothing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

"It's up to us to spread the word and make sure it's full all through the week."

Weekend dances and their Tuesday tea dance already attract people from across Burnley and a luncheon club is held on Thursdays, followed by indoor carpet bowls, table tennis, darts and dominoes.

"We've got one of the best dance floors in the area," added Mr Eccles, who praised the work of Burnley Council for Voluntary Service and County Cllr Sobia Malik in supporting their bid.

Cllr Malik, who represents Burnley Central East division, said: "A lot of hard work has gone into this success story from a range of stake holders, including Burnley CVS, ward councillors and of course the management committee, who were at the heart of this effort.

"It's been a privilege to work with Howard and the management committee, who are stalwarts in Brunshaw.

"I admire and respect them for their decades of commitment to the community."

The councillor said she was pleased the county council had recognised the committee's efforts and the importance of the community centre.

Cllr Mark Townsend, Burnley Council leader and a Brunshaw ward councillor, said: "It's been a real team effort, with the committee and Cllr Malik, and I'm glad a solution has been found for the centre."

Under the support package being offered by the county council, £5,000 has been on offer to help establish community-run libraries, to cover the costs of public internet access, shelving and set-up charges.

County Cllr David Borrow, the county council's deputy leader, has formally approved both Burnley applications, which follows the transfer of Gannow Youth and Community Centre to a neighbourhood group last year.

He said: "The aim of our property strategy is to ensure we have the buildings we need to provide good access to good services, while making some of the enormous savings we need make due to ongoing government cuts and rising demand for services.

"We said at the start of this process that we would consider proposals from groups who may want to take on full responsibility for council-owned buildings which we no longer need, in order to use for the benefit of the community, under the provisions of our community asset transfer policy.

"We have received business cases relating to a variety of buildings, and have been working with the organisations which have submitted them to ensure we have the information we need to make a decision."