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Community vows to fight to save 'Triplex' club
4:16pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in News
A COMMUNITY has vowed to fight to save the ‘Triplex’ social club after glass giants Pilkington struck a deal to sell the land to a housing developer.
Members were left stunned after Ruskin Leisure, a subsidiary of Pilkington Ltd, announced it was axing the Eccleston Social Club, last Thursday.
Seven employees will lose their jobs, including club steward Karl Leigh, his wife Sue and their son, Josh, when it shuts on November 16.
The club has more than 1,000 members and is home to a host of community groups.
The couple say they had agreed loans with the banks to fund the purchase of the club, but fear they were financially outmuscled by housing developer Jones Homes.
The company is currently constructing estates surrounding the venue on Knowsley Road.
Karl, 49, told the Star: “They are ripping the heart out of the community by closing this club. It has been going for 30 years.
“We’ve got the bridge club in here tonight, dancing tomorrow...and then there’s all the people who have bookings for weddings, christenings and birthday parties who will have to cancel them.
“We had been to the banks to arrange loans and thought we had reached an agreement with Pilks to buy the club.
“However, it seems it is now being sold to Jones for a much higher price.”
Members thought the club’s future was secure in 2010, when the developer snapped up land where the former Triplex factory stood to develop houses.
Terms of the planning permission for building on the site stated that the developer must invest in the club.
However, it appears that only comes into force if the club is running – and it is believed Jones Homes will be buying it as a vacant possession, once Pilks enforces the closure.
Angry club members are vowing to form an action group to battle the closure and block plans for any further development on the land.
However, a St Helens Council statement suggested that axing the venue does not breach planning agreements. It read: “The council has no powers to intervene in the closure of a social club by its private landlord – which is a contractual issue between the two parties.
“The planning permission granted to the adjacent 10-acre site for housing does include a clause relating to the improvement of facilities at the club – but this only applies if the club is still operating.
“The council cannot insist that work is undertaken to a facility that is closed – whatever the reason for it ceasing to trade.”