CAMPAIGNING residents in Burnley have vowed to save their community centre – after a stormy meeting with town hall bosses.

Plans to demolish Burnley Wood Youth and Community Centre, in Glebe Street, have sparked off a bitter row between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Ruling Labour councillors say they have been left with no option after Lib Dems signed a planning agreement with developers Keepmoat, when they controlled the borough council, in 2010.

But Lib Dem county councillor Jeff Sumner, who served on the previous executive, has insisted the deal was only reached subject to a new ‘state-of-the-art’ replacement being provided.

But centre users are adamant, whoever is responsible, that tearing the building down would rip the heart out of the community.

The Lancashire Telegraph revealed on Saturday that the future of the centre, opened nearly five years ago, was in jeopardy.

Council officials informed keyholder Sylvia Wilkinson that the premises’ lease had been extended until November 2013 then the centre would be torn down, a public meeting was told.

Jason Neville, chairman of Burnley Wood Youth and Community Group, said: “It is alright having a one-year lease but that is not going to allow us to bid for lottery funding. Their requirement is for at least a four or five year lease.

“This building is in an ideal location, away from major roads, very little traffic, with a secure play area.”

More than 100 people packed into the centre to hear how from Mike Waite, the borough council’s communications head, how the housing plans would affect the centre.

Mr Waite said that while no application had yet been received, one was expected soon. He confirmed that discussions had been ongoing over the latest housing provision since 2008.

He added: “Burnley Wood’s future depends on new housing and new investment. But we want to work with the community and find out how services can be provided in the area.”

Several centres, including Terracefields, Surestart, Dall Street, St Stephen’s church hall and Burnley Wood Primary School, were suggested as possible alternatives, to the dismay of residents.

Coun Mark Townsend, resources cabinet member, said: “The situation the current administration is facing was decided upon by the Lib Dems in 2010. We are trying to move this forward.”

He told residents the council faced the prospects of ‘extensive costs’ being lost to developer Keepmoat if the original housing agreement was ‘ripped up’.

Coun Sumner added: “The only reason Burnley Wood would close was if the developers supplied us with a brand new community centre which would suit the young people and the elderly.”

Residents have now started a petition opposing the closure.