Anger at popular club’s closure

Eccleston Social Club closure protest.'Steven Spencer and Mrs Karen Peers
Eccleston Social Club closure protest.'Steven Spencer and Mrs Karen Peers
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ONE of St Helens’ oldest and best-loved social clubs is set to shut - to make way for a luxury housing estate.

Eccleston Social Club - formerly known at Triplex Social Club - will close its doors for the last time on Friday, November 16.

Six full time members of staff are set to lose their jobs.

Club members - who were informed this week by letter of the move - had feared the worse after the proposed management committee failed to materialise.

The club, on Knowsley Road, Eccleston, is owned by Ruskin Leisure - a subsidiary of Pilkington who manage the glass firm’s social and leisure assets - who had wanted to sell the loss-making business for several years.

However, club members are furious at the announcement and have vowed to fight the plans.

Club stewarts Karl and Sue Leigh had attempted to buy the club from Ruskin Leisure but were outbid by housebuilders PE Jones.

Sue, who has worked at the club for almost four years, said: “We will dig our heels in and fight if necessary. This place is more than just a club, it’s a family and they have ripped the heart out.”

Staff and club members say Jones Home pledged to keep the club or move to a new site when they won planning permission for the nearby housing estate two years ago. But since the announcement last week, they have heard nothing from the property giant.

Karl added: “We’ve been kept in the dark as much as the customers; we simply don’t know what is going to happen. There are a lot of people feeling very sad about this decision.”

The Leighs say the club could still have a bright future and regularly pulls in hundreds of punters over the weekend and is used as a venue by countless community groups.

Club members have now formed an action group and are demanding a meeting with Jones Homes to clarify the company’s position on the club’s future.

A spokeswoman for Jones Homes said the company would “honour its obligations” but had no plans to reopen the club, adding: “Following the recent announcement regarding the closure of Eccleston Social Club, we were offered the opportunity to buy the land and premises with vacant possession by its current owners, Ruskin Leisure Limited.

“We have not made any plans for the land and are currently working with the local authority to determine its future use.”

The club’s plight is part of a wider pattern of closures across St Helens’ once-thriving social club scene.

In the last seven years alone 20 clubs have either shut or ceased operating as private members’ club, with 65 open in 2005 falling to 45 this year.