Bolton’s biggest housing group is considering bringing in charges at community centres in the town's most deprived areas.

Bolton at Home runs more than 18,000 homes throughout the borough as well as network of community centres, known as UCAN centres, which provide services for some of the borough's most disadvantaged communities.

After recent meetings, Cllr Sean Fielding of Breightmet says he has been told that Bolton at Home could be set to introduce charges for some of the groups that use them.

He said: “I appreciate that Bolton at Home might have to look at ways of generating income and how its buildings are being used, given the cuts that housing associations have faced.

“I hope that if there were to be any charges introduced there would be a policy on social value.

The Bolton News: The Johnson Fold UCAN Centre closed just before Christmas and will not be reopeningThe Johnson Fold UCAN Centre closed just before Christmas and will not be reopening (Image: Newsquest)

“This should protect community groups who do good work and don’t generate much of their own income from having to pay.”

Cllr Fielding says he became aware of the possible charges after a meeting at the Withins UCAN Centre on Kentmere Road in Breightmet towards the end of November.

Bolton at Home also runs UCAN Centres in Tonge Moor, on Tonge Moor Road, in Farnworth on George Street, New Bury and in Deane on Oriel Street.

The centres run a range of services for people from their communities including help finding jobs, use of the internet and computers and access to training courses.

The Bolton News: The Halliwell UCAN Centre confirmed it would not be reopening in July 2022The Halliwell UCAN Centre confirmed it would not be reopening in July 2022 (Image: Google Maps)

They also host social events and community groups, some of which could end up have to pay to use the spaces if charges are brought in.

The discussions about charges comes after one of the group's UCAN Centre's, in Johnson Fold, was closed just before Christmas.

Bolton at Home announced that the centre would not be reopening due to falling demand meaning that it was "no longer delivering value for money."

This came after the Halliwell UCAN Centre confirmed in July 2022 that it would not be reopening. 

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Where the remaining centres are concerned, the housing group says that it has not taken any decisions yet about introducing charges but that it is looking at “other ways” to fund community centres.

Bolton at Home group director of customer and communities Gemma Parlby said: “We’re always looking at ways to ensure our services provide value for money for our tenants as this enables us to continue investing in our homes and communities.

“Finding other ways to fund our community centres is something we’re exploring. 

“No decisions have been taken and we’ll communicate further on this when we’re able to do so.”