THE Bolton Sea Cadets, which came close to being shut down last year, has been saved.

The future of the unit was put under threat in June 2013 when members were told that the group’s headquarters in Castle Street was closing because asbestos had been found inside.

But after removing the asbestos, Bolton Council, which owns the building, has now agreed a new 25-year lease with the sea cadets on a “peppercorn rent” which will secure the unit’s long-term future.

When the asbestos was originally found, the council said a survey carried out identified only small amounts of the substance in a part of the building that was closed.

The council said it posed no risk to cadets, but the Marine Society and Sea Cadets charity insisted on closing the premises until work to clear the asbestos was carried out.

Contractors removed the asbestos by autumn last year, with the cadets returning to the building by the end of the 2013.

The new lease agreement not only provides the unit with a place to meet and train for the next 25 years, with an option to renew after that, but it gives them the ability to access funding in order to renovate the listed building, with some improvement work having already taken place.

John Holmes, 1st Lieutenant of the Bolton Sea Cadets, said the news would make a “massive difference” to everyone involved in the unit.

He added: “This has completely changed the way we all feel about being part of the cadets.

“For a long time we didn’t know if we would be here the next week but the security we now have means we can plan for the future. It is a huge relief. To go from such a precarious position to such a good one is amazing.

“We came very close to closing but now the unit will get better and better with the opportunities we can offer to young people.”

Mr Holmes praised Bolton Council for the work done to help the cadets through the tough time.

He said: “They have gone out of their way to help us and we are very grateful.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “We are delighted that a long-term lease for the building has now been agreed with the Sea Cadets which gives them security of tenure and enables them to access grant funding for improvements and ren-ovation to this listed building.”

The premises will be officially handed over to the Bolton Sea Cadets at a special presentation evening at the Castle Street base on Friday evening.