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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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300 users a week does not sound very many - I wonder what the running costs are per person?

I am sure if the saddleworth community group make a reasonable offer they can lease the centre from the Council taking on all the bills.

'A decision to potentially let it go' means no decision to actually dispose of the facility had been taken. The group received information two weeks before the cabinet agreed to the list of 'potential' disposals, so the consultation has started already and it will be some time before the options are considered. In the spirit of the Big Society, perhaps the group should consider the possibility of running it themselves.

Whilst not agreeing with the closing down of any community facilities, the only way this can be saved is if the 300 users cover the costs of keeping the building open - if they knew the true costs they might think twice and look for alternative venues. 43 people per day over 7 days doesn't sound like the building is being used to capacity.

To sell an empty building is one thing but to purposely make well used buildings empty so they can be sold is something else. As for consultation this is a joke and an insult to the people of Oldham, why because the Cabinet had all ready decided to sell on Monday to push the buck to District Partnerships who do not have the funds to run these centres. Your building is next. Cabinet control Rules

Having read the facts of the case, it's clear that these groups have been treated in a rather shabby, if not disrespectful manner.

all this is about is getting rid of a vital facility in uppermill to extract cash by selling the building on.

plain and simple!

thats why the consultaions are being held after the decision!

its nothing about cost savings. if it was this would be one of the buildings on the "save" list

I went to Oak Bank in 2003-2004 & did a French course certainly came in handy when i went to France for the beer run, i can't understand why they are closing this i had to pay for my course, so this isn't a freebie from the council.

I am not surprised by this at all.I have been treated disgracefully by LLL and I don't trust a word they say nor Oldham Council.I had been learning Spanish for 6 years and now have to teach myself.The class I attended at Lee Street,dropped in numbers and the rest of us were forced to pay extra to keep the class running,in the third term this then folded.I gave some feedback at the end of term and was then contacted by LLL to say I had outgrown LLL and could no longer be supported.hardly lifelong


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