WARRINGTON Borough Council has been criticised after refusing to allow a community centre to be used as an emergency food bank.

Poulton-with-Fearnhead Parish Council has set up the food bank in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It had planned to use Padgate Youth and Community Centre, on Station Road South, as a base – but the building is currently closed due to the ongoing lockdown and WBC would not allow it to reopen.

The landlord of the nearby Station House pub has since volunteered the premises to be used by the food bank instead.

Parish councillor Paul Gosney, chairman of Poulton-with-Fearnhead Parish Council, said: "The Poulton North ward is one of the most severely deprived areas in Warrington.

"Whilst recognising the work of the various organisations involved in providing much needed food and resources for vulnerable people, the parish council were made aware of a significant number who had fallen through the cracks of the work of network providers.

"With this in mind, councillors Graham Friend and Sue Emery decided to set up an emergency food bank in Padgate and the surrounding areas – this was made possible by a donation of £1,000 from the parish council.

"The intention was to use Padgate Youth and Community Centre, but the borough council decided that the centre was on lockdown and would not release it for the needy in the parish.

"This gives the impression that the borough council does not care for the wellbeing of the residents of the area.

"Fortunately, the owner of the Station House public house has given the group permission to use his premises for the emergency food bank.

"The thanks of the parish go out to him for his generosity – it is unfortunate that the borough council could not show such community spirit and compassion."

WBC has highlighted that it is also delivering food parcels to residents in need during the Covid-19 crisis.

A spokesman added: "As part of our response to the coronavirus outbreak, we have established a safe and well service to support vulnerable residents and families across the borough.

"This includes working in partnership with organisations such as Warrington Voluntary Action and Warrington Foodbank to ensure people who need additional support during this time have access to it.

“The safe and well service is based at Fearnhead Youth and Community Centre and is carrying out wellbeing checks with residents over the phone – offering advice, reassurance, and appropriate support – and delivering food parcels and essential items such as prescriptions.

"We are asking that if you or someone you know needs help or support to stay at home during this time, please contact the safe and well team immediately."