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What will the town have left to offer

RECENTLY, on a treacherous snowy evening, a small group supporting the continued use of the Longfield Suite as a dance hall and community facility, ventured forth to the debating chamber at Bury Town Hall to listen to our councillors.

We looked forward eagerly to hearing the answer to our letter addressed to a councillor whose brief is Health and Wellbeing. We thought we might hear descriptive language of the Longfield Suite — that it was a good venue with its various activities for people looking specifically for social contact and indoor exercise.

However, we were given a general statement, that our civic venues provide a range of activities fostering Health and Wellbeing, but at a subsidy. This subsidy has been calculated for the Longfield Suite to be 0.6p per day per person on the population figures of the 2001 census for Prestwich and Whitefield. Also, that the whole matter was being looked at by a Task and Finish Group, who it was stated, understood the benefits to individuals who visit the civic halls.

The councillor gave an overall general statement, when clearly our letter referred only to the Longfield Suite. The impression seemed to be, is health and wellbeing of a whole community worthy of a subsidy. Our question now is can we be certain that the Longfield Suite is making a loss? When will Bury Council publish individual figures for each of its four civic suites?

Could it be that our civic halls are targeted, because as well as exercise, some activities can be described as entertainment. This would be to ignore the social side on which communities aspire and expand. Without civic halls, communities would in the main, have to rely on small church halls and clubs or join expensive health centres. The enlarged social and warm atmosphere would evaporate, probably gone forever.

So it is to be hoped that the Task and Finish Group do not copy the councillors and study the halls in an overall situation. We should expect each venue to be reported on separately, informing on attendance, takings, and overheads.

In the final analysis, the Longfield Suite, with its diverse user group, attracting people from miles around, is a sought after venue which puts Prestwich firmly on the map. If the Longfield Suite goes, what will Prestwich have, that other places haven’t got?

Alf Wentworth Prestwich


Re-Living Our Youthful Past

As one who only re-learned the basic steps of dancing about five years ago at the age of 78, I now revel in the mood of the dancers at the Longfield Suite. For some it can be said, "well I need the exercise", but for the majority it is really, "I cannot live without my dancing".

I discovered a new world, one outside of my every day life. A world of smiling faces, of friendly hand holding, and, once in the swing, the sheer exuberance of bodily movement in a friendly happy way to the beat of the music. The Tango, Quickstep, a lovely leisurely graceful Waltz or Foxtrot.

How, can these simple pleasures be suddenly snatched away from us. If cash is the issue, there must be many wasteful aspects of the large Councils budget which can be pruned, before taking the awful step of having to deny old folk their happy memory renewals, and for so many younger dancers, the start and formation of many happy hours.

Please Councillors, bear in mind, that you are deciding on the activity of the happiness of many loyal citizens, who, during their lifetimes have already paid many thousands of pounds in Rates and Council Tax.

Just as readers get some of their money back in the Library, Swimmers with their baths, surely we dancers are also entitled to retain our lovely sprung floor dancing venue THE LONGFIELD HALL.

Walter Pennington, Prestwich

The Longfield Suite is too valuable an asset for Bury to lose

At the meeting on Thursday last, Councillor Bibby several times said that the Longfield Suite would not close if it was "viable and sustainable". What does he mean by these words? Are they another name for profitable?

But how do you measure profitability? Surely more than financial terms. What about the social activities the Longfield Suite provides? These build up a community. The Longfield Suite provides leisure, cultural, charitable and fitness opportunities for many members of the public from other parts of Bury, who then spend their money here. These benefits more than compensate for what seems like a negative budget, but which on examination may not be one.

Monsignor John Allen, Our Lady of Grace, Prestwich

The Longfield Suite is the centre of the community here at Prestwich, and should be kept open, of course the present council which is Tory run have no regard for the public at all, its all about profit and looking after the more fortunate members of our public (I used those word wisely)What they have to realise is that people are fed up to the back teeth of them.

Brian Wilbraham

I look forward to getting dressed and going out to the Longfield Suite to meet my friends and make new ones each Sunday night.

M Regan

I would just like to bring your attention to the activities taking place at the Longfield Suite on a Tuesday morning. Over forty ladies enjoy a keep fit class and twenty people take part in the Yoga class run by Christine Action.

I have taught the exercise class for about twelve years and it had been going on long before I took over.

Both these classes ensure that the ladies keep supple, strong and stable, improving balance, co-ordination, mobility and strenght. This helps them to carry on being independent and preventing falls. They also enjoy the social interaction and fun warding off depression and loneliness.

I attended the meeting on the fith of November and a lot of emphasis was placed on the ballroom dancng so I just wanted to show you what else took place.

The Longfield Suite is at the heart of Prestwich with superb transport links and surrounded by shops. The staff are fantastic and will do anything to help things go smoothly. It is an amazing floor which really cannot be replaced. With the interest in Strictly Come Dancing, I am sure the ballroom will be used every night.

With Thanks

Janet Hood

Re the minutes of the Public Meeting

I found the comment of one of the councillors rather odd I must say. She said that a dance she had attended was 'full of "non Prestwich people " ' Of course the residents of the borough should be encouraged to use the facility as much as possible, but not wanting or welcoming people from outside seems to me a bit like a tourist board only wanting the locals to enjoy their places of interest ! ( I live in North Wales and try to visit the Longfield Suite when I'm in the area. And I think the dances that take place there are excellent.)



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