Row rumbles on over demolished centre

Demolition of Burnley Community Centre on Glebe Street.
Demolition of Burnley Community Centre on Glebe Street.

Burnley Borough Council has been accused of demolishing a community centre too soon.

The Youth and Community Centre in Glebe Street, Burnley Wood, was demolished in February to make way for new homes to be built by developers Keepmoat, but former users and ward councillors are furious that six months down the line nothing has been built.

The centre became the focus of a fierce political argument between the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups on Burnley Council with each accusing the other of agreeing to the disposal of the land for housing.

Burnley MP Gordon BirtwIstle has backed his Lib Dem council colleagues Jeff Sumner and Tracey Kennedy who say the demolition was a political stunt by the ruling Labour group.

Mr Birtwistle said: “The Labour group had the centre bulldozed as quickly as they could to blacken our names.

“They said that Keepmoat needed the land urgently to start building houses but six months later and there is still no sign of work starting.”

However Labour’s Coun. Julie Cooper, who will stand against Mr Birtwistle in next year’s General Election, and was leader of the council in February when the centre was demolished, accused the Lib Dems of double standards.

Coun. Cooper said the Lib Dems signed a planning agreement with Keepmoat, when they controlled the council in 2010.

In March, the council’s ruling Executive Committee voted unanimously to dispose of the land bounded by Glebe Street, Kirkgate and Parkinson Street.

A spokesman for Burnley Council said: “The decision to demolish our building on Glebe Street was taken in the proper way. The demolition took place on the basis of long standing decisions about the programme of regeneration and housing work in Burnley Wood.

“Burnley Council continues to work with Keepmoat on that programme. Of course, right across the town and across the country, the actual pace of housing development, and decisions over particular phases, are always influenced by developments in the market and technical issues. Burnley Wood is no different in this regard. These programmes always take time.”