BOLTON’S charity canopy will be dismantled as part of a £1 million redevelopment of Newport Street, council bosses have confirmed.
And the trio of colourful elephants in Newport Street will also be moving to a different location.
The canopy, which has been used by charities to sell bric-a-brac and fundraise for 30 years, will be taken down and placed in storage this autumn as council bosses look to transform Newport Street into a modern, European-style “boulevard”.
Charity groups have described the news as a blow but council chiefs insist it is vital for the regeneration of the town centre.
Keith Davies, director of development and regeneration at Bolton Council, said: “The council remains committed to supporting local charities as far as is possible and is particularly focused on supporting the charities who use this facility regularly.
“The removal of the charity canopy is part of a much larger redevelopment plan for the town centre, which includes but is not limited to several public realm schemes, a new interchange, a refurbished market and new facilities for young people.”
The scheme is part of a £1.44 million strategy to improve the town centre, which includes repairing and cleaning Victoria Square and repaving the surfaces from Blackhorse Street to Great Moor Street.
All trees, advertising signs and street furniture will be torn up from Newport Street, so that workmen can improve its drainage and resurface the walkway to achieve their vision.
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The improvements will coincide with the building of the new Transport Interchange, and from this week the council will not accept reservations by charities for the canopy past August.
Mr Davies said the authority will write to businesses and every charity which has used the canopy in the past 12 months to ask them whether they would prefer to have a stall in the open market, or a temporary stall on market days in either Octagon Square or by the statue of Fred Dibnah.
The elephants will be relocated to another town centre site, which has yet to be confirmed.
About 40 charities set up stalls at the canopy last year, with animal causes from outside of Bolton using it most regularly.
One charity which has regularly used the canopy is Bradshaw-based Pet Rehome.
Trustee Wendy Cooke said: “We have held sales there since the charity was founded 12 years ago and it has brought in about £3,500 a year for us, which is a significant sum.
“It is devastating to hear that the canopy is closing although not entirely unexpected. If the council has decided this it appears there is nothing we can do — it is a real blow.”
She added that the alternative sites being offered “will not compare” to the canopy, which is “spacious and in a wonderful position”.
The structure was put up in 1984 and was funded by Marks and Spencer, to mark its centenary year.
A report by council officers said Marks and Spencer had been consulted on the plans, and that it understood that the canopy has to go.
In July, 2012, The Albert Halls, which is run by Bolton Council, notified charities and other users of the Centenary Canopy in Victoria Square that they would be moved to a stall on Ashburner Street Outdoor Market from November.
Council bosses later made a U-turn on the decision and allowed charities to continue selling second-hand goods at the canopy.