A NEW lease of life has been breathed into a community learning centre which was in danger of being axed.

The new Westhoughton Hub has officially been handed over to the community and is already becoming a home to everything from dance studio to a radio station — with vocational and leisure courses pencilled in.

The centre was put under review by Bolton College and to safeguard its future it was placed into community ownership.

The former community college building will now be a meeting place for groups and a place to attend a new range of courses.

The deal has been arranged by Bolton Council and Bolton College. The Hub will be run by Westhoughton Community Vision, a community association formed by residents, councillors and businesses.

The aim is to provide a community hub for the people of Westhoughton, with access to meeting spaces, advice, information, educational, social and leisure opportunities.

They have also asked people what they would like to see in the building.

Aspire Dance and Stage are to use the centre as a base for its varied programme of dance, stage and gymnastics classes, while Howfen Radio will broadcast its community radio station from the centre.

Westhoughton Community Vision is talking to other organisations interested in using the building, with the aim of providing a variety of vocational courses as well as cultural, social and leisure groups, but not to duplicate any existing provision in the town.

Gaynor Ratcliffe, chairperson of Westhoughton Community Vision said: "The birth of the Westhoughton Community Hub is a testament to all the hard work and commitment put in by the team, volunteers and the community. There is a great feel to the new hub and we are delighted with the response from the residents of Westhoughton to this new and exciting project.

"We have worked closely with Bolton Council, Bolton College, Bolton CVS and other stakeholders to get the best outcome for the community and together we know we can make a difference. We are looking forward to opening our doors, everyone is welcome, please come along and join us at the new facility."

Cllr Anna Marie Watters, cabinet member for community services and voluntary sector at Bolton Council added: "I’m delighted that we have been able to work with the college to transfer this building into community ownership. I have been committed to bringing this building back into use and have worked with the college and Westhoughton Community Vision to make it a reality.

"This building is very important to the people of Westhoughton, as a meeting place for the community and will now become a real community hub, providing meeting spaces, information, educational, social and leisure opportunities."

Bill Webster, principal of Bolton College, said: "We are delighted to hand over the building to the local community. Members of Westhoughton Community Vision have worked incredibly hard on behalf of the residents of Westhoughton and the Hub will be a real asset to the people who live and work in the area."