VOLUNTEERS who have run a community centre for more three decades have been evicted from the premises.

The Fearnhead Management Group has managed Fearnhead Cross Community and Youth Centre for around 35 years.

But now they and the Blackbrook Community Association have been served an eviction notice by Warrington Borough Council and will be required to vacate the community centre by Thursday, May 23.

Long-serving Fearnhead Management Group member Sue Emery said: "The volunteers are absolutely gutted – all they want to do is to help look after people on these estates and put back into the community.

"We've got to fight it, because we have nothing to lose."

Warrington Borough Council cited health and safety issues as the reason for the eviction.

A spokesman said: "There have been ongoing difficulties at Fearnhead Cross Community and Youth Centre regarding conduct, health and safety for some time.

"We have worked closely with the Fearnhead Management Group to attempt to resolve these issues, including meeting to discuss concerns and to agree remedial actions.

"However, attempts to improve communication and relationships while positive have not been able to be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

"It is with regret that the decision has been made to end the arrangement for the Fearnhead Management Group and Blackbrook Community Association to use an office at the centre.

"The council has offered assistance in supporting both groups to source alternative premises."

It is understood that the Fearnhead Management Group will appeal the decision, while hundreds of residents have signed a petition calling for the committee to remain in place.

Warrington Borough Council's spokesman added: "Careful consideration has been given to this decision, which has been reached in the best interest of the welfare of staff and all centre users.

"The operational management of the centre, health and safety, facilities hire and resourcing remains the responsibility of the council.

"We recognise and value the role of volunteers in all of our centres but feel that the difficulty in maintaining good relationships at the centre simply cannot continue as this is not in the best interests of council staff, the community groups or service users.

"Both community organisations are able to continue to operate from alternative premises, and the council community centre facilities can still be hired for activities in the usual way.

"We'd like to reassure everyone who uses Fearnhead Cross Community and Youth Centre that all services and activities are welcome to continue to run as normal, and we are fully committed to the success of the centre."