A CHARITABLE organisation has taken over the management of a community hub after a major dispute broke out over the running of the site.

Five members of the board of six trustees at The Mosses Centre, located in Bury town centre, say they have resigned.

However, the sixth trustee, Shirley Simmons, says she was barred from the premises in February, and believes she is still legally elected as a trustee.

The Mosses Community Association Limited, the charity which oversees the running of the Cecil Street centre, is expected to be liquidated on Monday.

Ms Simmons says she was informed by the other trustees that they had resigned and that the Mosses Centre was being put into liquidation.

Bury Council, which owns the building, has been involved in the transfer of the management and lease on the building to the Asian Development Association of Bury (ADAB).

Under its management, ADAB hopes to extend the centre. Its aims include improving social cohesion, reducing social isolation, improving health outcomes, and boosting opportunities for volunteering, training and development.

Tan Ahmed, ADAB's chief officer, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for ADAB to bring together local communities, where everyone is welcome, where we can do much more and with our partners make it a true community asset.”

Cllr Sharon Briggs, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “We have been working closely with ADAB and Bury Voluntary Community and Faith Alliance to ensure that the Mosses has a bright future ahead.

"For many years it has been a valued community centre, and we hope many more local people will use to meet new friends or take up a new activity, all at handy town centre location.”

However, a petition has been set up, calling for an inquiry into the conduct of the former trustees, and for the lease to be returned.

A statement issued on behalf of the outgoing trustees, namely Cllr Annette McKay and Cllr Stella Smith, John Pearcey, Brent-James Pinder and Marina Jones, says the changes have “ensured the future” of the centre.

The statement reads: “The Mosses community centre is in the process of a change of management which will ensure its future for the local community.

“The lease on the building is being transferred to another local community charity, namely ADAB, who have plans to develop the centre and keep it open for use by all community groups.

“The current trustees, who will all be leaving, are grateful to the council who own the building for their help in planning a smooth transition of the management.

“The trustees are also grateful for the support they have received during a difficult year from current staff, user groups and members.

“The Mosses Pre-School and Nursery will continue in the same building as a separate company but fully supported by the new management.

“Everyone concerned with this development is delighted that The Mosses Centre will have a bright future.”

The Mosses Centre was opened about 46 years ago to serve the people of Bury. It provides a meeting place for more than 30 clubs and groups including line dancing and an Armed Forces and veterans breakfast. It is used by between 700 and 800 people each week.

In February this year there was a major split in the management.

The former centre manager, Anne McGladdery, and the bookkeeper, were suspended from employment, pending an investigation.

During a council meeting in July this year, allegations were levelled against Cllrs Smith and McKay as the dispute over the “perilous” community centre continued.

Ms Simmons believes the handover of the charity to ADAB and the liquidation of the Mosses Community Association to be illegal.

She said: “The trustees were voted out by two votes of no confidence.

“Why do they have the right to approach another charity to take it over and then surrender the lease when they are not officially legal trustees?”

Members of the Mosses Centre called for the Charity Commission to investigate the running of the site.

For more information on what activities could be run at the Mosses, contact ADAB on 0161 761 2079 or admin@adab.org.uk

The Bury Times has contacted the Charity Commission.