PADGATE residents say they are gutted and saddened that a community hub supporting the area’s most vulnerable people will be taken over by the council.

After nearly 50 years, the team at Padgate Youth and Community Centre have been unable to agree on financial terms with Warrington Borough Council to enable a lease to be signed.

This means that the charity will not be able to continue to run the centre – so have been given notice to quit the building from August 31.

WBC required costs for the building are in excess of £50,000, but as the charity’s income last year was £25,000, they could not take on this liability.

As a result, the centre on Padgate Lane will be run by WBC from September 1.

For 48 years the site has hosted various celebrations, events and activities to support the community.

Warrington Guardian:

These cater to everyone in the community – varying from Christmas and Halloween parties to afterschool clubs for children to charity nights and tribute acts.

And thanks to the passion of Jane Henshaw, the centre manager of seven years, many of these events have been free to the Padgate community.

Jane’s aim has always been to provide as many free events as possible – particularly during Covid times and the cost of living crisis.

In particular, the club supports children in various away - providing afterschool clubs, a kid’s café, by hosting events throughout school holidays and even providing facilities to help children with their homework.

The Padgate venue has four different rooms, a garden and a kitchen.

Jane, who is from Padgate, told the Warrington Guardian how she is ‘absolutely gutted’ at the decision.

“It is there for everybody and the biggest sadness of it is that we can’t carry it on,” Jane said.

“It’s hard and it’s really sad.”

Warrington Guardian:

Trustee Desmond Wilcox, who has used the centre ‘forever’, added: “We aren’t just talking about Jane, myself, and other members of the trustee board – we are talking about the community.

“It is vulnerable people.

“People who need to come in and have a cup of tea or coffee and just talk.”

The team at the centre have offered various ideas to the council about working together to continue providing a huge range of mainly free events for the community – especially after Jane has built up ‘brilliant’ connections with families, groups and business.

But these have been ‘totally rejected’.

Their ideal outcome would be that they can still access the centre and put activities on – but again, they say this has been rejected.

Those connected with Padgate Youth and Community Centre are also fearful that everything they have built up will be ‘stripped’ and that the centre under WBC control will not meet the needs of the community.

Warrington Guardian:

Jane had around 30 parties and events upcoming, but they have already been cancelled with the change in ownership.

And the price to rent each room has allegedly already increased – resulting in more cancellations.

The Warrington Guardian put a series of questions to WBC about why their support was withdrawn, why funds are not available to continue supporting the centre, whose decision it was and if the costs saved are worth the loss to the Padgate community.

But they refused to answer and provided the following statement instead: “Padgate Community Centre is a council-owned building.

“Padgate Youth and Community Association (PYCA) has been responsible for managing the day to day running of the centre.

Warrington Guardian:

“We have been in regular dialogue with the committee regarding a long-term lease which would outline the legal responsibilities around centre management.

“Unfortunately, after continued negotiations, we have been unable to reach an agreement. As a result, from 1 September, we will be taking back responsibility for the day to day running of the centre and it will remain open.

“We would like to thank PYCA for their support in the management of the centre over the years.

“We would also like to reassure residents, and the community groups who use the centre, that we will work with them to provide an appropriate programme of activities and events for people of all ages to participate in.”

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Responding to the news, one Padgate resident said: "Really sad to hear this Jane you have battled to keep the centre going all this time.

"You are a credit to the community and a lovely giving person.

"I am sure everyone will agree you need a medal for your hard work.

"This is awful news, but thank you for all you have done for the community."