Tearoom row on a rolling boil

Coun Kevin Anderson opens the tearoom in 2014
Coun Kevin Anderson opens the tearoom in 2014

A dispute between a Leigh community group and the town hall about a popular park’s tearoom continues to rumble on.

The Friends of Pennington Hall Park (FOPHP) has been told by Wigan Council the facility will be put out to tender next year.

We have turned the park and tearoom into a lively community hub of which our community is very proud of.

Trisha Taylor

Group leaders have vowed to oppose the plans and have hit out at the council for its decision. A petition in support of the group has also been launched.

However, council bosses have in turn said FOPHP has failed to reveal “where profits are going” and maintains the facility should be “self sufficient”.

The town hall added those signing the petition “haven’t been told the truth” .

A statement submitted to the Observer by group chairman Trisha Taylor reads: “We were surprised to receive (the six month notice to tender) as we had only just submitted our application for funding under the Wigan Deal.

“Our volunteers have been dedicated to turn this now beautiful Green Flag park as what it is today from the antisocial behaviour that used to occur on a very regular basis .

“We have turned the park and tearoom into a lively community hub of which our community is very proud of.

“We are opposing the process that has been enforced upon us and we are seeking advice. We have a five-year contract which would end in June 2019.”

Council bosses have said the tearoom, and the park facilities as a whole, has benefitted from ongoing financial support.

And FOPHP is free to apply for the community asset transfer in 2017 during the tender process.

A council spokesman said: “Pennington Hall Park is a real asset to our community and we understand how much it means to residents which is why we want to secure its future. By adopting The Deal principles we believe the venue can be self-sufficient.

“With £60m to save by 2020 we need to make sure the café doesn’t close. Leasing it as a community or commercial asset will ensure its future.

“We believe the profit should be ploughed back into the park, and we are keen to help improve the experience for visitors. We understand why people would want to sign a petition, but unfortunately they haven’t been told the truth.”