Group fury at centre closure
Date published: 21 November 2012
ANGRY community groups at Saddleworth Lifelong Learning Centre — devastated that it is set to close — have criticised Oldham Council for holding a consultation event about the facility after a decision to potentially let it go had already been made.
As reported in the Chronicle yesterday, the Lee Street facility in Uppermill is among nine buildings the council is considering closing to save on accommodation costs. Others include Oakbank Lifelong learning Centre in Chadderton, which held its consultation session yesterday.
The Chronicle was turned away from the talks at Oakbank and told it was a private event for service users only.
Consultation at Saddleworth runs from 2.30 to 4.30pm and 6.30 to 8.30pm today.
A range of music, art and other groups use Saddleworth Lifelong Learning Centre.
Ruth Greenwood, from Dobcross, is part of the 24-strong gardening club based there for more than 20 years.
She said: “We are absolutely devastated with the news. It seems to us there has been no consultation beforehand.
“At the ‘consultation event’ today I do not know who is going to come and represent the council and answer our questions. It all seems very vague. We do not know what format it is going to take.
“The groups only received the letter that the centre was under review about two weeks before Monday’s meeting.
“I am told about 300 people use the building weekly. They had very little time to take it in — they are very angry.”
She said that the group would struggle to find somewhere else to meet, adding: “At the rear of the building is a very large greenhouse and there are gardens at the front and rear.
“Where will we be able to find another venue that will be able to provide us with these activities which is central?
“Our primary concern is that this is a central location, it’s easily accessible by foot and bus — not everybody in Saddleworth has a car. Many of the people in our group are elderly, it’s a lifeline to be part of a community group.”
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