An empty shop in Bolton town centre has been transformed into a recycling and refurbishing centre for bicycles.
Bolton Alternative Transport have taken up premises on Deansgate, that used to belong to the YMCA, under the empty town centre shops initiative set up by Bolton Council.
The project, which began last year, invites charities and community groups to apply for a grant to help them take over vacant units in a bid to boost the town.
Bolton Alternative Transport successfully applied for £4,100, and the group is using the shop as a centre where people can take bikes that would otherwise be scrapped or discarded. These will be then made available for sale at a fair and affordable price.
The YMCA has supported the process, and will continue to use the shop as a small cyber cafe with free internet access.
As well as making sure residents have somewhere to go for cheap and well refurbished bikes, Bolton Alternative Transport will also be offering training courses, a bike mechanic qualification and volunteering opportunities.
Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Development and Regeneration, said: “This is an excellent project, and exactly the kind that can benefit from the grant. I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to help them. This is the second scheme to come to life under the initiative but grants are still available and I’d urge people to get in touch to find out more.”
In order to help the borough’s more vulnerable groups, Bolton Alternative Transport will mainly seek to provide these opportunities to refugees, asylum seekers and those who access mental health services.
At the end of the courses the participants are given a bicycle provided by Greater Manchester Police unclaimed property section, that the students have fixed and serviced themselves.
Planned cycle rides will also take place from the shop, with something available for all abilities.
Andy Boardman, coordinator of Bolton Alternative Transports, said: “Our aim is to stop usable bikes from going to landfill, and to provide good quality training for targeted groups in Bolton, hopefully leading to accreditation as a City and Guilds training centre.”