An East Lancashire sports hub could be kept open and run by local community organisations, following a move by a town council and a new company.

Whitworth Leisure Centre in Rossendale, which includes a swimming pool, is earmarked for closure by Rossendale Leisure Trust (RLT) and Rossendale Council. 

A closure decision was made by borough councillors last spring after a report by independent financial experts.

The centre has already changed hands over the years - in the past, it was run by Community Leisure Association of Whitworth (CLAW). Then three years ago, it was taken on by RLT, an arms-length charity which runs council-owned facilities.

But circumstances have worsened since then, it is said, with building maintenance, rising costs and council budget pressures cited as challenges.

Threats of closure have sparked protests in Whitworth - some say the Whitworth centre should be handed to a community group. They emphasised the pool is used by young and old, including schools.

Some also queried the decision-making process and the amount of time Rossendale councillors were given to consider the facts before voting to close the venue.

But in June borough leader Cllr Alyson Barnes insisted councillors were sufficiently briefed and had understood the issues when they voted for closure.

But the council has also said it would consider transferring the centre if a bid was submitted from an organisation with a track record.

Now Whitworth Town Council and a new community interest company are sending an expression of interest to the borough, hoping the centre can be transferred.

Town council minutes say: "It was resolved that an expression of interest is put in to Rossendale Council by Whitworth Town Council, working with the newly-formed Whitworth Leisure Centre community interest company (CIC).”

Further talks are slated by the town council with the CIC over the centre.