ANGRY members of a Pendle luncheon club staged a protest after a council announced plans to merge it with a similar group in a neighbouring town to save money.

More than 10 men and women from Roughlee Luncheon Club congregated outside Barrowford Civic Hall on Thursday to oppose Pendle Council’s decision to amalgamate them with Barrowford’s club in less than a month.

The club, which has been running for over 10 years, provides senior members of the village community with an opportunity to meet up and have a nutritious meal once a week at a familiar venue.

It caters for people over the age of 50 as well as those with a disability.

Members said state-of-the-art facilities had only recently been fitted at their ‘lovely and warm’ venue in Roughlee Village Hall, which is used by other groups too.

Committee member Gillian Dawson, said: “The club meets every Thursday and there are usually about 14 members whereas Barrowford only have about eight.”

Members of the Roughlee club are made up of senior citizens from Roughlee, Blacko, Barley, Wheatley Lane and Fence. Mrs Dawson, of North Farm, Roughlee, fears the merger will prevent senior citizens interacting socially.

She said: “The members are deeply upset. We have a great community spirit in Roughlee and we’d like to keep the seniors together at this venue.

“If the amalgamation happ-ens it will upset the balance because in winter when the weather is bad they won’t want to travel to Barrowford.”

Pendle Council sent letters to members of the luncheon club, informing them that the merger will take place in around four weeks.

Pendleside Coun James Starkie, said he was unhappy with the way the council has handled the merger and backed the club’s protest.

He said: “The issue is the decision to curtail Roughlee out of 14 luncheon clubs when in relative terms, their numbers are as good as anyone’s. It isn’t just the future of luncheon clubs that is at stake — we want to know why this one has been chosen.”

Members of Roughlee Luncheon Club said they were going to apply for a postpon-ement of the merger while they try to persuade the council to reconsider their decision.

Philip Mousdale, Pendle Council’s Executive Director for Community and Citizen Services, said they had to cut one of the area’s luncheon clubs to make savings.

He said: “We are sorry that our decision to merge Roughlee and Barrowford Luncheon Clubs has upset some people.

“We needed to make savings across the whole Council amounting to around £637,000.

“We carried out a detailed review of the way the Luncheon Clubs operate and felt able to make some changes to save £18,660 whilst still maintaining a good overall service.

“We believe that a change in venue will not hinder people’s enjoyment of the weekly get togethers.

"We will, of course, continue to provide transport for anyone who may have difficulty in getting to Barrowford.”

Anyone needing help getting to luncheon clubs should call Shelagh Czapowski on 01282 661561.