Community bid to rescue club

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A COUNCIL chief is calling on a community to support one of Wigan’s last surviving Labour clubs.

Officers of Higher Ince Labour Club held a crisis meeting and voted to fight on to save the Anderton Street based institution which has mounting “serious but manageable” debts typical of so much of the licensed trade.

President Marion Baldwin says she is heartened by new offers of help for the operational committee and people prepared to mount a membership drive in the surrounding estates.

This has allowed the long established club, with a smart 250-seat concert room available for gigs, to honour all existing wedding and birthday function bookings, but the slump in the local economy has hit the club hard.

Members reveal that support for its regular Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evening concerts has dwindled to an average of just 50. Hopes that the closure of neighbouring Lower Ince Labour Club last year would see this club mop up its former membership have only partially materialised.

Committee members are now considering whether the club’s long term future may lie in selling the large current site and using the capital raised to develop a small club nearby.

The National union of Labour and Socialist Clubs (NULSC) have been informed of its plight and its officers have been in talks with the club over its future.

Deputy leader of the council Coun David Molyneux - whose father Alf was a founding member of Higher Ince Labour Club - met with the committee this week. He said: “I am calling on the community to support this club and to make sure it is still here for others to enjoy long into the future.

“These places were the community centres of their areas, if you come to think of it, long before the concept of a purpose built community centre had ever been dreamt of. They have always been a key part of life for an awful lot of people and we have lost too many clubs to allow any more to go without a fight.

“I have met with the committee and offered whatever help I can to make sure it does have a future.

“The position is serious but in my view it can be managed to keep the club alive for the community it has served so well in the past.

“There are of course a generation of people who are happy sitting behind their closed doors watching sport on Sky television.

“But in my view places like Higher Ince Labour Club can continue to play an important part in getting people out and bringing the community together and strengthening family links in the 
process.

“More than 70 people supported a special meeting called to discuss the club’s future last week and that is a positive sign that there is still good interest there in keeping it alive.

“I still believe that the club has a lot to offer and it is just a case of reminding more people about this fact.”