Fears that cuts could threaten future of Ramsbottom Civic Hall

Ramsbottom Civic Hall

Ramsbottom Civic Hall

First published in News Bury Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A community group has voiced concerns for the future of Ramsbottom Civic Hall in the midst of deepening cuts to council budgets.

The Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall, which was formed in 2007 to protect the long-term future of the Market Place venue, say they are worried that funding could be cut and the use of the hall could be threatened.

The venue plays host to several different community groups, including Hawkshaw Flower Club, the East Lancashire Alpine Garden Society as well as the Ramsbottom farmers market, and music and comedy nights.

The civic hall was threatened with closure in 2007 when Bury Council recommended it should shut, and the Friends group sprang into life.However, the hall has since benefited from a £500,000 renovation project, which started in 2010, involving a complete refurbishment of the Holcombe Suite and repair work to the roof, windows, walls and doors.

It is estimated that the council will have to find £16 million in savings in 2015/16, prompting renewed fears.

Eddie Jones, acting chairman of the group, said: “Council budgets will come under increasing pressure over the years to come and significant savings will need to be made — who knows what services will be the next to go?

“The next two years will be a turning of the screw. There is always the need to move forward in order to maintain the civic hall.”

The Friends work in conjunction with the council to maintain and promote the venue, which dates back to the late 1800s.

Mr Jones added: “The progress made is a testimony to the close and continuing good work between all parties involved.

“With the recession biting deeply into local services and council budgets, the progress made at the hall is a fine example of a community facility being carefully and co-operatively steered through the difficulties of our times.

Cllr Ian Bevan said: “There is no specific threat to the civic hall at the moment, but we don’t want to lose it, not after the council has bought it. But we have got to make it pay.”

The Friends are urging anyone who wants to join their group to contact Mr Jones by emailing EddJones@Nildram.co.uk or calling 01204 887947.

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