Formby Hall protest takes to the streets

Campaigners show their opposition to the demolition of Formby Hall
Campaigners show their opposition to the demolition of Formby Hall

Angry residents took to the streets in a desperate last-ditch bid to show the strength of feeling against demolishing a popular community hub.

Campaigners held a protest outside Formby Hall in Atherton to try to save the much-loved venue.

I can’t understand how the council can ignore a petition with 5,000 signatures on it to save Formby Hall.

Protest organiser Paddy McCrory

Developers the Formby Hall Investments (FHI) group want to bulldoze the Alder Street venue and put in its place a nursing home and flats for supported living.

However, the proposal is bitterly opposed by residents who have been supported by politicians and opposition activists.

Residents Stand Against Wigan Council (RSAWC), which was formed by members of the Atherton Residents’ Association which gave evidence to the public inquiry on the hall’s demolition earlier this year, organised the protest on Saturday afternoon.

Demonstrators gathered outside the hall, which was home to community events, presentation nights, drama and music performances and the annual Bent And Bongs Beer Bash, and waved placards expressing their anger at its fate.

Protestors criticised Wigan Council for not doing enough to guarantee its future for community use when the building was transferred to Rose Leisure, later known as 8th Wonder.

Protest organiser Paddy McCrory, from RSAWC, said: “I can’t understand how the council can ignore a petition with 5,000 signatures on it to save Formby Hall.

“The building is a part of the town’s heritage and a reminder of its coal mining legacy and has witnessed over a century of Atherton’s history. It has gone beyond its original intended use as a place for public meetings and is at the core of life in Atherton.

“The residents of Atherton are contesting the council’s legal right to sell the building as it was gifted for the people.

“This is by no means a decrepit local centre, draining council funding, but a thriving hub.”

Karl Battersby, director for economy and environment at Wigan Council, said: “We understand the concerns of the local people, but the council has followed all due processes and an independent inspector appointed by the government has agreed to the method of demolition.”