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Closure threat for Blackburn-based blindness charity
THE imminent closure of a council building in Blackburn has left a blindness charity facing an uncertain future.
Blackburn & District Blind Society has been told to search for a new home after Blackburn with Darwen Council decided to axe the Independent Living Centre in Mill Hill.
The centre also houses about 20 social services staff, who are now set to move to the town hall in June.
Mike Latham, chief executive of the Blind Society, said the charity has rented rooms at the centre in Mill Hill Street for three years and had been hoping to extend its lease. He said: “There’s a great deal of doubt about this and where we’re going to end up. We’d have been more than happy to stay here, as it suited us down to the ground, but we only had a short term lease so it’s not come as a terrible surprise.
“We’ll need to find some new office space with disabled access. We’ve been paying £350 a month here and we can improve on that slightly, but not by much.
“We’re just hoping there’s a business or organisation that can offer us something affordable, as the market rates would be too expensive for us.”
The charity, which has about 500 members, has been running since 1881 and used to have offices in Blackburn town centre. It runs coffee mornings at the Mill Hill facility and several services to support the blind and partially sighted, as well as the Talking Newspaper.
A Braille IT group, which uses the centre once a week, will also have to relocate.
The Lancashire Telegraph also asked the council how much the centre costs to run, as well as its market value, but these questions went unanswered in a statement.
Steve Tingle, the council’s director of commissioning and adults, said: “We are relocating 20 council staff, made up of occupational therapists and the aids and adaptations team... so that they can work more closely with our rehabilitation and other social care teams.
“While no decision has yet been made about the future of the building, it would not be viable to keep it open once our staff have moved out.
“We will offer any support we can to help the Blind Society alternative premises.”
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