NEW Stalybridge Labour Club has paid a heavy price for the furore that surrounded the raising of the red flag over the building for the funeral of Rod McCord.
Dr Colin Hancock, who owns the building, has revealed functions at the Labour club have subsequently been cancelled.
“When cancellations were made, the reason given was due to the flag. If is caused offence, it was not intended to do,” he explained.
Of the trouble sparked by the flying of the red flag, Dr Hancock said: “I am not a communist, but have my own businesses as well as a social conscious.
“I bought the building for all the right reasons and for community benefit – it was not of a political nature.”
Dr Hancock added the flag was raised to mark the passing of a man who did a lot for the community.
He continued: “He was a good bloke, irrespective of his political allegiance and he should be respected for what he did for the local community.
“There was no other motive other than remembering somebody who had passed away. It is regrettable it had this damaging effect.
“Sadly the reaction has damaged the club and the people who work here and helped put it together.”
Dr Hancock said with the refurbishment complete, they had been hoping to use that as a platform to push on.
Dr Hancock, who took over the Labour club in 2016 and invested £180,000 on refurbishing the badly decaying building for community use, has been disappointed by the “negativity” he has been confronted by since his arrival in Stalybridge.
The Nottingham-based businessman said: “I was surprised to find obstacles in my way and there was an attempt to burn the building down while the refurbishment was in progress.
“There has been a negativity and the reaction to the red flag has brought things to a head.”
Dr Hancock is keen to promote the club’s mission statement that is to provide a facility for the local community at attractive prices.
It is home to Stalybridge Motorcycle Club, a slimming group and a reading club.
The Labour club, that has acquired a long lease, is run by four directors – Dr Hancock, George Wishart along with Cllrs Bill Fairfoull and Adrian Pearce.
Dr Hancock, who says they could do with more working board members, said: “We are a non-profit making organisation and returns are ploughed back into the community.
“Any surpluses are available through bursaries for local people, both young and old, and for educational organisations.”
Dr Hancock, who owns a number of dental surgeries in the Midlands and Wales, was asked by Lord Pendry, former MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, to get involved.
He explained: “I did it as a favour to Tom who asked me to look at it because of its history and locality.
“I was brought up in a mining area and been associated with working men’s clubs so knew their importance.
“I put together a plan and took over the Labour club in 2016.
“It was in a state of decline, financially seriously in trouble and needed serious attention which is why I decided on an extensive refurbishment.”
The club has a function room with a 180 capacity, main and sports bars as well as a snug, the Pendry Lounge.
Dr Hancock was born in Derbyshire in 1945 and had a practice in Harley Street, London for 35 years, specialising in oral surgery and forensic dentistry.
He played football for England U18s, British Universities and Notts County reserves and was also a former chairman of Aldershot Town when they were a Football League club and involved at Port Talbot helping them qualify for the Champions League.
Dr Hancock was also a successful athlete who made the junior Olympics squad for those displaying potential.