PROTESTERS have vowed to save a popular cafe, which was a focal point of the community for 25 years.

Cafe Rian, part of Mercer Hall Leisure Centre, Great Harwood closed last week - even though local people said business was thriving.

Owners Hyndburn Leisure Trust, which wanted to replace the cafe with a viewing gallery for the swimming pool, has now pledged to review its decision following protests and a request by Hyndburn Council.

Jessie Hall MBE, a former mayor of Great Harwood who was a regular visitor to the cafe, said: "It's a great loss to Harwood. It wasn't just an ordinary cafe but an excellent cafe.

"People used to come from all over Lancashire just to taste the two-course meal."

Coun Lynn Wilson said: "We are losing the post office, there are rumours about other businesses going and to lose this it's insulting. We are definitely going to fight to reopen it."

Another senior councillor has also joined the fight but said the decision was out of council hands. The deputy leader of Hyndburn, Peter Clarke, said the woman who had been running the cafe had retired.

He added: "The council have been pilloried as bad people but it is Hyndburn Leisure Trust who own the cafe, not the council.

"It's a tragedy, it's like the central point of the town and has been here for years. It's not just a cafe but a community centre for local people."

Hyndburn Leisure Trust said it wanted to knock down the cafe to accommodate a viewing gallery for the swimming pool but said it was aware of the controversy.

"There have been issues around people getting from one side of the building to another and having to walk around the the pool," said Peter Baron, deputy chief executive.

"We have been asked by the council to revisit' our decision. The board would look at any proposal to see if there are any private companies interested in taking the cafe over."