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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Bolton: Halliwell UCAN centre ‘will not reopen’

A centre opened to be at the heart of its community will not reopen.

Halliwell UCAN Centre is currently being used to house pupils from Thomasson Memorial School, which is undergoing repairs.

Now it has been confirmed the centre, which opened to be a focal point for residents, will not reopen after pupils have gone back to their school.

Cllr Linda Thomas, who represents the area, said: “I was really dismayed to find that the only council run UCAN centre which is in Halliwell will not reopen once Thomasson Memorial vacates it

“And I was further dismayed to find that the neighbourhood management will be discontinued.”

She added: “Halliwell UCAN is not just a community centre which others may have in their wards.”

UCAN centres were opened to motivate residents to learn new skills and gain qualifications as well be a place for the commuity and seek advice in a bid to improve areas.

The Halliwell UCAN Centre on Hatfield Road has long provided a range of services since being taken over by Bolton Council more than 10 years ago.

But since January the centre has temporarily housed Thomasson Memorial Special School, while the school deals with a leak.

The neighbourhood management of the facility is set to end this September, a decision Cllr Thomas believes to be ‘short sighted.’

Cllr Thomas explained that police, health and probation services had all operated out of the centre, which has also been home to a community library, job clubs, a debt counselling and community groups.

She said: “Sadly those who don’t represent areas of high deprivation don’t seem to understand that.”

She added: “Everyone is welcome, no-one is judged, and guidance is always available from a small team including some volunteers.”

Speaking at a meeting of Bolton Council, Cllr Thomas said this flew in the face of the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, given the centre’s role in serving some of the town’s most deprived communities.

But cabinet member for stronger communities, Cllr Mudasir Dean said that many of the services moved online after the pandemic and said the centre could potentially still be run by other groups.  

He said: “The services have been available, they’ve just been at different locations.”

He added: “The Halliwell UCAN building is a great building and through a community asset transfer process can potentially support continued community activity.”



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