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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Financial woes sound death knell for Barrow club

A HISTORIC Barrow working men’s club will not re-open, despite efforts to overcome financial and admin problems.

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end of an era The Engineers Club in Abbey Road, Barrow, which has been closed and boarded up

The Engineers Club opened for the final time in January and has since been boarded up after its brewery, Heineken, appointed receivers.

Club secretary Steve Forster said the committee had done everything in its power to revive the Barrow institution. He said it had more than 500 members, 150 life members, employed six members of staff and had started to turn the corner in the previous year.

But Mr Forster conceded there was now no realistic chance of the club re-opening. Some members have gone to other social clubs including the Royal British Legion, Labour Club, Central Working Men’s Club and the Kill One.

Mr Forster said: “It’s a shame for the members, particularly because the majority of our clients were pensioners. People are still asking is there any chance of it opening. But I’ve exhausted everything.

“The idea of a social club is still a possibility if the person who purchases it wishes to do that.”

Mr Forster added that more than £200,000-worth of maintenance work needed to be carried out on the building.

Mr Forster said the club had £85,000 outstanding to the brewery on a loan of £125,000 started by a previous committee in the 1990s to pay for refurbishment.

He said a combination of bad decision-making and miscommunication between committees meant the problem had deepened by the time the extent of the problem was discovered.

In addition, it emerged the club had been wrongly registered with the Financial Conduct Authority as a welfare society rather than a company, which led to its licence to trade being removed.

Mr Forster said the committee had managed to reach agreements over outstanding bills and had a “workable budget” for repaying the brewery. However, he said the “bombshell” from the FCA triggered the receivers coming in within two days.

A Heineken spokesman said: “Following the closure of the club, receivers were appointed. The receivers are actively marketing the property and will consider in line with their agent’s advice, any offers made to purchase the club premises.”

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