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St Helens Council has no powers to block sale of social club
SENIOR councillors have expressed dismay at the decision by Pilkington subsidiary Ruskin Leisure to close Eccleston Social Club - but say they have no powers to block the land sale to developers.
St Helens Council moved to clarify their position on the venue, formerly known as the Triplex club, by issuing a statement.
It follows a decision by Pilks to axe the club and sell the land off to developer Jones Homes, which is currently building homes on surrounding land. Town hall leaders say Pilks’ decision effectively leaves the council with its hands tied.
A planning consent clause committing the developers of the adjacent housing scheme to improvements at the club will be rendered null and void if the venue is vacant.
Deputy Leader of the council, Barrie Grunewald said: “Even at this late stage I would urge Ruskin Leisure to rethink its closure plans.
“We have no powers to intervene in the proposed closure of the club by its private landlord – which is a contractual issue between the two parties.
“Clearly we can’t insist that improvement work is carried out at a club that has already closed – whatever the reason for it ceasing to trade.”
The club has more than 1,000 members and is home to a host of community groups. Seven employees will lose their jobs, including club steward Karl Leigh, his wife Sue and their son, Josh, if plans go ahead to axe it on November 16. The couple say they had agreed loans with the banks to fund the purchase of the club, but fear they were financially outmuscled by the developer.
An action group has been set up to fight for Triplex’s future and members were due to meet last night (Wednesday to discuss their next step).
Earlier this month Jones Homes said it had not made any plans for the land and was working with the local authority to determine its future use.
A company statement read: “We are committed to Eccleston and will continue to honour our obligations and have plans to build a PCT and pharmacy elsewhere on the site, ensuring local job creation.”