WIGAN’S controversially-axed arts education centre should become a junior annexe of Wigan Youth Zone, it has been recommended.
A report yet to be considered by the ruling Cabinet urges the council to agree a “peppercorn rent” for Wigan Boys and Girls’ Club Limited to take over of the much-lamented Drumcroon Gallery buildings on a 125-year lease.
Their exciting £1.5m project will form a respite club for disabled youngsters aqnd those with special educational needs administered by charity Hop, Skip and Jump as well as a base for children too young currently to go to the neighbouring and now fast emerging Youth Zone proper.
Drumcroon closed last year despite a spirited campaign to save it becoming another borough victim of the Government’s spending cuts, finally being controversially put up for sale earlier this summer.
It is hoped that some aspect of its pioneering education work could live on in the original Drumcroon setting with some of the former staff being re-engaged.
Corporate services director Paul McKevitt said today that if the council sold Drumcroon they may be able to raise £225,000 towards council capital receipt budgets.
But the people of Wigan could expect to get far more back with the agreement to lease it to the Boys’ Club
He said: “That is its value although in the present economic climate it is doubtful if this could be achieved.
“The council is foregoing the receipt because of the offer as the charity will investing £1.5m in refurbishing the building.
“If we made this capital outlay it would mean £150,000 per year in borrowing costs for council tax payers.
“In addition, annual running and staffing costs of providing this service would be £75,000, so in just one year the borough gets the value of the lost receipt if we did this ourselves.”