A COMMUNITY hub could be closed down at the end of the month much to the dismay of locals.

Formby Hall in Atherton, which is owned privately, is rumoured to close by the end of July after being sold.

The closure of the popular venue, which is yet to be officially confirmed, houses events and community groups each month.

Lynne Pasquill has been running Learn 2 Jive dance lessons there for 12 years and said the closure could end her business.

She said: "We believed that when the hall was owned by Wigan Council and sold to Rose Leisure, there was a covenant to say that it could only be used for public use but it appears now that the covenant was only for five years and that five years is up. My numbers will drop dramatically if I have to move somewhere else because no-one likes change. They won't even tell us who they have sold it to or what it will become."

Formby Hall, in Alder Street, was formerly owned by Wigan Council and was sold to Rose Leisure before being sold privately.

Norman Bradbury, a founder member of the Formby Hall Community Trust tried to buy the venue when it was owned by the council, but was refused.

Atherton Councillor Martin Aldred and other ward councillors have been told by the council that under the sale agreement the Hall has to be kept open for public use until March 2016.

A council spokesman said: "Rose Leisure Limited subsequently operated the Hall under licence for a number of years until the sale completed to a new private owner in June 2014. The terms of the sale required the property to be run as a public venue until at least March 2016.

"We are aware that the new owner has advised a number of users that the Hall will close, but there is a requirement to keep it open until that date. If the owner closes the venue without our consent then we could pursue the matter further."

The council said that it was unable to run the hall other venues without incurring substantial losses and a private operator could experience similar difficulties.

The spokesman added: "Formby Hall has been in private companies/enterprises hands for over four years after being sold in 2011, the council's remedies to control the use of the building is limited and in any case that control will expire within the next eight months."