A CENTRE that provides a lifeline for vulnerable forces veterans will remain open after holding crisis talks with Bolton Council’s community services chief.

Bolton Armed Forces Centre 4 Heroes, in Ashburner Street, receives cash from the town hall at regular intervals throughout the year via a military covenant fund.

But volunteers Scott Hawtrey and Cait Smith — who founded the centre last year — received an email telling them the final portion of the annual funding would only be released following a ‘full audit’.

The couple, who are themselves forces veterans, believed their honesty was being unfairly questioned and announced they were to close the centre.

But following talks with Donna Ball, Bolton Council’s assistant director of community services, they say this is no longer the case.

Mr Hawtrey said the one-line email was ‘an insult’. He said: “I felt it questioned my integrity because I send a full breakdown of exactly what we spend right down to the last penny.

“I couldn’t understand what more they could want from us, a full spreadsheet had been supplied.”

He continued: “We had a very productive meeting with Donna Ball. It has been agreed the rest of the money will be released now and she has actually given us more funding. “We’ve got somewhere and she has got us extra funding for the new year, it’s a tenth of what we need, but more than what we’ve got."

The centre is also unhappy that an existence of a parallel company set up by the council in 2015, registered to their address, has also proven an obstacle to the centre gaining charity status and funding.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The Council supports the Armed Forces centre by providing free-of- charge accommodation and has recently administered a grant.

“We recognise they have continuing difficulty until their charitable status can be enacted and so for this reason we are continuing to support the centre. As is standard practice when administering grants, we requested a breakdown of the centre's funds and we have spoken to those involved and cleared up any misunderstanding that arose from the request made.

“In the meantime the centre will look at more sustainable options for the future.

At the end of this month, the company will change its structure to a charitable organisation which should open up more options for funding bids.”