Row erupts over MP’s visits to Brierfield

Brierfield Town Council has expressed its disappointment over Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson’s decision to stop using Brierfield Community Centre for his monthly surgeries in the town.

Brierfield Town Council agreed to take over control of both the Community Centre and Brierfield Town Hall in June this year, after Pendle Council budget cuts meant both facilities were facing closure.

Coun. Hanif said: “For more than 15 years, Pendle MPs of both main parties have used the centre for their surgeries, so why has Mr Stephenson done this now?

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“I have asked Mr Stephenson if he would give reasons for his decision. No response has yet been received.”

Coun. Hanif said both are making a considerable annual loss and that soon after the hand-over of the buildings on October 1st, Mr Stephenson stopped using the Community Centre.

Coun. Hanif added: “It is therefore a bit of a slap in the face to lose even this small income from our current MP.

“In the past few years, this Conservative-led council has closed the council shop and neglected the town centre.

“There has been no inward investment in the centre, whereas other areas of Pendle have had considerable investment in there town centres.”

But Mr Stephenson has hit back saying: “It is regrettable that Coun. Hanif once again puts party politics ahead of the people of Brierfield.

“Pendle Council have recently transferred a number of community centres and halls to town and parish council or other organisations, for nominal sums of money. None have closed.

“While some of the new owners of these buildings have actually reduced rates for some groups, Brierfield Town Council seems intent on forcing community groups out of the two venues they have taken over.

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“This has included forcing out vulnerable user groups like pensioners groups who have used the centres for decades. “In my case Brierfield Town Council decided to double the rate I would have to pay and charge me £295 a year to use the centre to provide my advice surgeries to the public.

“To put that in context, that would have been more than I pay for the use of the six other venues I use (Barrowford Holmefield House, Barnoldswick Civic Hall, Colne Library, Earby Parish Rooms, Nelson Library, Trawden Community Centre). It is very sad that Brierfield is being so poorly served by Coun. Hanif.”