‘Bus depot money should be used for Haslingden’
A HASLINGDEN councillor has attacked the decision to plough money from the sale of the town’s former bus depot into Rawtenstall’s flagship regeneration project.
Earlier this year, Rossendale council sold Rosso bus to Transdev, for a figure of £3.7 million.
The sale saw the closure of Rosso’s bus depot in Haslingden, proceeds from which will now be used to finance Spinning Point’s second phase.
Coun Annabel Shipley said the decision shows that Rawtenstall is being prioritised ahead of the Valley’s other towns.
She said: “Myself and (fellow Haslingden Conservative councillor) Granville Morris are absolutely furious about it. That money should be used for Haslingden and the other areas as well.
“Why does Rawtenstall have to keep having it?
The former Conservative group leader also questioned the wisdom of borrowing to invest in a major development, especially following the Empty Homes debacle which the council has admitted could cost the taxpayer £5 million.
She said: “Retail shops are really struggling. To be borrowing money to put up front when we’ve got no guarantee that premises are going to be filled, it needs a complete rethink and I think it’s too big a risk.”
She also raised concerns about whether a spa would attract sufficient footfall to the Valley, given competition from nearby outlets in Burnley and Clayton-le- Moors. She added: “If there’s not adequate parking that’s going to put people off.
“I think it’s madness and I cannot agree with it.”
Council leader Alyson Barnes said she appreciated there was a perception they have not invested into Haslingden – especially given plans to open a spa in Rawtenstall when Haslingden has lost its swimming pool.
But she said Rossobus was a company that served the whole of Rossendale.
She said: “The difficulty we have is were are trying to regenerate three town centres, whereas your average council only has to regenerate one.
“I’m very conscious that we have not put any really big money into Haslingden so I hope that will be next.
“The government’s clear message is grow your local economies, we’re pulling out and it’s up to you.
“If we want to carry on providing services for Rossendale residents we have got to do this. All of this is borne from that.”
Coun Annabel Shipley