Cynical timing, but it looks like the popular community asset will bite the dust
Chorlton Irish Club is to disappear as the building has been put up for sale by Colliers International. The official press release says: ‘Acting on behalf of trustees of the Club founded in 1956, the Manchester office of Colliers believes potential new owners will see the two-storey building as an outstanding platform for redevelopment. To maximise interest in the property from the widest possible range of prospective owners, Colliers is not marketing the property for a specific type of future use.’
Remember: the club is owned by its members. The club's own website tells us so
Tom Lathwood, surveyor, residential, city and suburban development at Colliers International, is quoted as saying: “Located at the heart of one of south Manchester’s most prosperous and vibrant communities, Chorlton Irish Club represents a prime redevelopment opportunity and, despite these unique and difficult times, we expect a strong level of interest from a wide range of potential buyers.”
Lathwood might be looking for a range of buyers but the locals are beyond upset especially the members of Chorlton Irish Club. As the Friends group say:
'(A year ago the) Trustees of Chorlton Irish Club...citing previous failures to produce accounts and with promises to create a new committee 'seized control...on behalf of the members.'
Fast forward a year: no accounts produced for members; no committee elections; no AGM; no communication; membership scheme closed. Now it's confirmed the Trustees are putting the property up for sale without seeking the permission of the membership, and with no information as to what happens to the proceeds of any sale. Remember: the club is owned by its members. The club's own website tells us so.
'The venue has been central to the life of the Irish and (other) local communities for many years. It is shocking that efforts are being made to kill it off in this way, at this time.'
The press release from Colliers International mentions ‘the two-storey Irish Association Social Club has operated as a private member, licensed social club for more than half a century, staging public and private events including parties, dance classes, traditional Irish music, Bop Local party nights and book launches.’
Perhaps more importantly for the purposes of the sale, another paragraph states: ‘Prosperous and popular with ongoing investment and growth, Chorlton-cum-Hardy is located just three miles south of central Manchester with strong connections to the city and Manchester Airport thanks to the Metrolink tram system and easy access to the M60 and wider motorway network.’
Kerr-ching! In other words, get bidding fellas, this one’s going to get you good returns. The clear presumption is the club will go permanently so expect flats Chorltonistas, and maybe five or six ‘townhouses’ in that admittedly ugly but very large rear car park. It's forget Bop Local, here comes Colliers International. Not quite such a fun night out.
The timing of this announcement appears to be poor, bordering on cynical.
With the ‘we’re all in this together’ mantra ringing in everybody’s ears during a national emergency, pushing forward with a sale that displaces something of long established community value in favour of private interest seems opportunistic and against the spirit of these troubled times. It would have been healthier for the trustees to gracefully hold back.