Fight hots up to save community centre ‘lifeline’

Burnley MP Julie Cooper presents a petition to County Coun. Azhar Ali
Burnley MP Julie Cooper presents a petition to County Coun. Azhar Ali

Campaigners have stepped up the fight to save a “lifeline” community centre from closure.

The Healthy Living service at the Chai Centre in Stoneyholme was identified as one of a number of potential community services to be closed by Lancashire County Council in its latest raft of cost-cutting measures.

With rates of depression and diabetes well above the average in this community, it makes no sense to me at all to be losing services which help to prevent or manage these debilitating conditions

Julie Cooper MP

A delegation of campaigners, led by Burnley MP Julie Cooper, travelled to County Hall in Preston to hand in a petition signed by of hundreds of concerned Burnley residents.

Former Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and his Liberal Democrat colleagues on Burnley Borough Council have also called for the service to be saved from the axe.

The well-used centre in Hurtley Street was opened in 2004 and presently houses a range of facilities including the Healthy Living Centre which incorporates a café, gym and sauna.

Mrs Cooper was accompanied by County Coun. Dr Misfar Hassan and Burnley Borough Coun. Saeed Chaudharay who co-ordinated the petition following weeks of discussions with residents opposed to the loss of services.

The petition was handed over to County Coun. Azhar Ali, Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, who has been faced with the difficult decision to cut the £200,000 funding during the next financial year, following drastic Government cuts to the county’s funding.

Mrs Cooper said: “The fight goes on. I am determined to leave no stone unturned when it come to the development of a contingency plan to save the Healthy Living centre at Chai.

“The residents of Daneshouse and Stoneyholme have made it clear to me that, in this deprived area of our town, these services are quite literally a lifeline to many.

“With rates of depression and diabetes well above the average in this community, it makes no sense to me at all to be losing services which help to prevent or manage these debilitating conditions.”

The MP went on to add a cautiously optimistic remark about the future.

She added: “I have held discussions with several interested parties both here and in Westminster and I am pleased to say that early signs are looking really promising that a viable solution can be found.

“More discussions are in the pipeline before anything can be finalised, however I am encouraged and hopeful about what I have heard.”