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According to Bury Council, Prestwich residents are not worth a penny a day. That's the latest shock discovery of campaigners fighting to save the Longfield Suite.

Save Our Suite Campaigner Alf Wentworth said: 'Using council figures we worked out that the Longfield Suite costs less than a penny a day for each resident of Prestwich. Why is the Council complaining about such a small investment - do they think we're not worth it'.

The ladies taking part in Tuesday's Aerobics at the Longfield Suite had one simple message for Bury Town Hall leaders: 'we're worth it'.

Fitness instructor Janet Hood who has been teaching at the Longfield Suite for over twelve years said: 'Through regular exercise and hard work, my ladies have maintained mobility and strength. This helps them to carry on being independent and maintain the ability to enjoy life to the full. To be told Bury Council considers us not worth a penny a day is an insult'.

Retired Deputy Head teacher Margaret Gadian, who regularly attends the Tuesday Aerobics classes and recently celebrated her 90th Birthday said: 'Typical of Bury Council - Penny wise Pound foolish'.

According to Andy Burnham, the Government Health Secretary, the NHS spends £3000 a minute on illness, which could be prevented by physical activity. He describes being active as a 'long-term insurance policy against ill health'.

The revelation comes just as new health initiatives are launched across the country including the Change4Life programme, Be Active, Be Healthy, Let's Get Moving and Boogie For Your Bones. All encourage people to become more active to protect against obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis.

Councils are required to work in partnership with the NHS and other organisations in order to provide a wide range of opportunities for activity, including dancing, keep fit, walking, swimming and cycling.

Councillor Beverley Sullivan* is responsible for Health and Well-Being in the borough. At last week's council meeting she was asked why she isn't defending the benefits provided by the Longfield Suite. She acknowledged the benefits provided but said 'we cannot ignore the realities of using taxpayers money to subsidise these venues'.

*Read full answer transcript HERE

Campaign organiser Kevin Hodges said: 'Town Hall leaders are keen to tell us about the Civic Halls subsidy, they are not so keen to tell us the bulk of this subsidy is for the Elizabethan Suite and Ramsbottom Civic hall - which they are determined to keep at all costs. It appears some residents of Bury are more equal than others. Now that we know how little the council are prepared to spend on the Health and Well-Being of Prestwich residents, Bury Council have elevated the term 'penny pinching' to an extreme'.

February 11, 2010 - SOS Reporter

Arlene signs Longfield Suite petition

DANCING diva Arlene Phillips has backed a fight by Prestwich residents against a plan to close the borough's civic suites.

The former Strictly Come Dancing judge, who left the show amid an ageism row, signed a petition against the plans to close the Longfield Suite where she learnt to dance.

Campaigners who use the suites say they will fight against plans to close the suite in Prestwich and the Radcliffe Civic Suite.
Last year, the Advertiser revealed how Bury council had commissioned a report into all civic suites across the borough.
One of the proposals was to close the Longfield and Radcliffe amenities.

Now one of Britain's most famous dancers has signed the 7,000 strong petition against the closure plans. Former Prestwich resident Arlene, who now fronts prime-time BBC show So You Think You Can Dance, said: "Dance is a tonic for the body and mind of people of all ages. The Longfield Suite, Prestwich, gives the community somewhere to dance and be happy - don't close it down."

Arlene's remarks come as campaigners obtained a confidential report, published in September 2009 which indicated that the Longfield Suite was the most successful of the borough's four civic venues, with the highest income levels and best rates of take-up among local residents.

The report, published in September 2009, also reveals that the many health and well-being benefits provided to local people by the suite's activities are excluded from the council's current review of civic halls.

Kevin Hodges, organiser of the Save Our Suite campaign, said: "I find it hard to believe town hall leaders could consider a proposal which would have a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of the local residents. Consultation with local people shows time and time again that an overwhelming majority want to keep the Longfield Suite.

But council leader Bob Bibby said: "No decisions have been taken about the future of the suite. I think we should leave this up to the Task and Finish Group to do their job."

January 28, 2010 -By Pamela Welch - Prestwich Advertiser

Council ignored a plan to save
borough's civic suites

BURY council have been slammed for ignoring a plan which could have saved the borough's civic suites.

A report obtained by campaigners fighting to save the Longfield Suite in Prestwich and Radcliffe Civic Suite outlined ways to improve the financial position of the venues.

The report, dated October 2007, set out plans to improve advertising, produce a better business strategy and recover outstanding debts in order to make the venues more profitable.

The plans were uncovered by Save Our Suite campaigner Alf Wentworth under the Freedom of Information Act.
Retired lecturer Alf said: "We were informed by Councillor Bibby that our civic halls are underused and don't make enough money.

Alf Wentworth holding Confidential report

"He implied that this is the fault of local people for not using the venues enough.
Now we learn that problems such as poor advertising and outdated box office systems, which have been obstructing ticket sales and limited website capability, were known about more than two years ago. Why have they not been dealt with?"

But council leader, Councillor Bob Bibby, said he could not have acted on the report.
He said: "Although I was council leader at the time, the council was hung, so I couldn't have done anything with the report even if I had tried."

The latest development in the civic suite campaign comes after a public meeting last week at Radcliffe Civic Suite.
Residents were informed that Bury Council are to hold yet another consultation to find out what local residents and users of the Civic Suites want.

Councillor Catherine Berry read out a statement from Council Leader Bob Bibby who did not attend.

Save Our Suite Campaign organiser Kevin Hodges said, "Another year another consultation. Do we really need another expensive consultation process when the Save Our Suite petition with over 7,000 signatures has clearly sent a clear message to the town hall."

Pamela Welsh- January 21, 2010 - Prestwich Advertiser













^^ BACK ^^
Question from Mr A Wentworth. Asked at Full Council meeting Bury Council Town Hall - 3 February 2010.
Note: All public questions asked at Bury Council meetings have to be in writing and submitted four working days in advance.

Why is the Executive Council Member responsible for Health and Well-being, making no public attempts to extol the Health and Well-being benefits plus savings to the NHS, the Longfield Suite provides to the residents of Bury.

It is widely acknowledged that all our Civic Venues provide a range of activities which foster health and well being, but we cannot ignore the financial realities of using taxpayer’s money to subsidise these venues to the tune of £600,000 a year. We have to look at what alternatives are available that would retain the strong links with local communities but not require large ongoing unfunded subsidies.

The Task and Finish Group is currently undertaking a wide-ranging consultation to enable a full range of views as possible to be gathered as part of its work. The wide range of dance activity, and the benefits of that to the individuals who visit the Civic Venues, is already understood by the Task and Finish Group, and this will be considered as part of its work