Storm in a tea room over closure claims

Trisha and George Taylor at Penningtons Tea Room
Trisha and George Taylor at Penningtons Tea Room

A campaign has been launched to save a community cafe which claims it has been told to close.

Penningtons Tea Room claims Wigan Council has given it six months notice to close and will put the building in Pennington Hall Park in Leigh out for tender.

The tea room is a wonderful cafe and a real hub of the local community which is why we are not closing it

Penny McGinty

An announcement on the volunteer-run cafe’s Facebook page accuses the council of being motivated by greed.

It reads: “We are disappointed that Wigan Council cannot see it is more than a tea room.”

The community have reacted with outrage and a petition has been set up calling for the cafe to be saved.

But the council has disputed the claims made by the Friends of Pennington Hall Park, which runs the cafe, and said it has made the cafe available for a community asset transfer.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for leisure and property at the council, said: “The tea room is a wonderful café and a real hub of the local community which is why we are not closing it. Wigan Council is financially supporting the cafe in a number of ways by paying for the utilities and maintenance of the building.

“We’d like to see the community group take responsibility for this using the money they get from the tearoom.

“We’ve met with the group to make them aware and go through their options. They will be able to bid for a Community Asset Transfer, but unfortunately they seem to be opposing the process rather than engaging in it.

“At the moment Wigan Council has not issued the friends with a six month notice, nor are we planning to close the cafe.

“But with £60 million to save, we can no longer afford to subsidise buildings like this which is why we have opened it up to an asset transfer.”

According to Wigan Council’s website, a community asset transfer is part of The Deal.

It involves the council transferring land, buildings or structures (assets) owned by a public body to a community/voluntary groups or social enterprises.

That group or organisation then becomes responsible for running, managing and maintaining it, including all the associated costs.

The council has invited groups to express an interest in the tea room and the bowling pavilion at the park.