Community centre hit by £220,000 cuts

Burnley MP Julie Cooper with users of the Chai Centre. Picture by Paul Heyes.
Burnley MP Julie Cooper with users of the Chai Centre. Picture by Paul Heyes.

Facilities at a much-used Burnley community centre could be under threat of closure when £220,000 of funding is stopped next year.

The cafe, gym and sauna, which form the Healthy Living Centre, at the Chai Centre, in Hurtley Street, could be casualties after Lancashire County Council decided to withdraw funding for the next financial year as the authority bids to make savings of hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Chai Centre is in one of the most deprived parts of town and I have pledged to fight to help keep these services

MP Julie Cooper

But those who use the centre, along with volunteers, county councillors and the town’s MP have vowed to fight to save the facilities and residents have even expressed an interest in running them as a social enterprise.

County Coun. Azhar Ali, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said it had been a difficult decision to make.

“Because of all the cuts made by the Tory Government, Lancashire County Council is having to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from services to survive.

“We have had to make a very difficult decision. We had a contract with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust for £220,000 a year for the Healthy Living Centre.

“We have decided not to recommission services when the current contract runs out in March 2016 but are working closely with all stakeholders to explore options for the future of the centre.”

MP Julie Cooper said it would be a real blow to the area if the facilities were lost and blamed the Government for targeting those most in need.

“The Chai Centre was built six years ago under the last Government. It’s a fantastic place and it’s been jointly funded over the years. It is so well used that members of the community have said they would want to get involved and set up some kind of social enterprise. They are really upset and worried about it. The Chai Centre is in one of the most deprived parts of town and I have pledged to fight to help keep these services.”

Other services run at the centre, for families, children and babies, will not be affected.