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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Working men’s club in Barrow closes after licence to trade is withdrawn

A WORKING men’s club in Barrow has been forced to close after it emerged it was not registered as a business.

The Engineers Club in Barrow opened for the final time on Saturday.

Club secretary Steve Forster explained the reasons to the Evening Mail after members were informed during an emergency general meeting on Monday.

Mr Forster, 52, who became secretary in April, said the present committee inherited significant debt and problems with the running of the Abbey Road club. He said it had been incorrectly registered as a welfare society, rather than a company.

Mr Forster said it emerged the Financial Conduct Authority withdrew the club’s licence to trade early last year and the club failed to act on it. He said the issue only came to light recently when the committee was making arrangements to have the gas reinstated after the supply had been cut off in July due to missed payments.

Six staff members have lost their jobs and the club had around 500 members, of which around 150 were life members. Mr Forster said he was making a business case to brewery Heineken, which he said owns the deeds to the building, in a bid to reinstate the club as a new business, but admitted the committee could make no promises to members.

He said the closure was even more disappointing as the club had been turning the corner in the past year, with increased custom, sales, entertainment and engagement with community groups and charities.

Mr Forster praised the “tireless” work of staff and committee members and said: “We’ve managed to sort out the debt, get on a good footing with the bank and Heineken and, as we’ve come to get the gas back on and they’ve done their research, it’s come to light we’re not registered as a company

“The members are really upset. It’s taking away one of the biggest social aspects of their lives. It’s part of the community.”

Heineken and the FCA were unable to provide a comment when the Evening Mail went to press.

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