'My dad would have been so proud': Daughter of much-loved Bamber Bridge councillor applauds new social housing block in his name
South Ribble's first social housing development in 25 years has been built to help local people get on the property ladder and has been named after the late councillor Tom Hanson.
Tom Hanson House on Station Road, Bamber Bridge, has been converted into apartments for social rent by South Ribble Borough Council and was first unveiled last Friday, May 21.
The nine new homes are being managed by the Community Gateway Association, in a bid to help people in the area in need of affordable housing and are named after long-standing councillor Tom Hanson, who passed away in 2014.
His daughter Erica has today spoken to the Post of what it means to her, her sisters, and the rest of the family, to see her father's name engraved on the wall of the new social initiative.
She said: "It meant so much to me and my family because we know that my dad lived and breathed Bamber Bridge. I remember in the 1980's he would drag me and my twin sister Tracy out handling leaflets and from then on, he never lost his seat on the council until he passed away.
"It was a real testament to my dad and showed how much he cared about the area and the people here. He was really passionate about fighting for the vulnerable people in society, so the fact he is named after a social housing development is amazing.
"He would be so proud if he was still here. He always wanted to help others and believed that hard-working people deserved a good quality of life and spent his time on the council fighting for the causes that supported people who needed it."
Known as 'Mr Bamber Bridge', Coun Tom Hanson had served as Mayor of South Ribble between 1991 and 1992 and had been a member of the Standards Committee.
And he had spent 34 consecutive years serving the residents of Bamber Bridge on the council until his passing in 2014.
Work to convert the new social housing property began last year, boasting seven one-bed flats and two two-bed flats, being the first affordable housing development introduced to the borough in 25 years.
Erica added that her sisters Jackie, Linda, Karen and twin Tracy, along with mum Barbara and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren were all proud that the new housing scheme was named after her dad.
She said: "My dad lost his father when he was very young, and saw his mum struggle to bring him and his brother Joe up. He saw how hard she worked just to put food on the table at night, and that always stuck with him in his work on the council.
"He would be so proud to have this project named after him as it will help young people and low-income families get their foot on the housing ladder. My dad was instrumental in helping Bamber Bridge to become what it is today and he really cared about the people here and those who needed help.
"It brought me to tears seeing his name on such an amazing project. It will help to support people who really need it and stop them from plunging into poverty. He was a serving councillor right up until he died and I wish he could have seen this.
"There has been so much demonisation and stigma surrounding council housing and supported living. Even back to when I was growing up on a council estate, it was always seen that we were poor and troublesome families, but I had the best childhood I could have asked for and it is great to see projects like this continuing in the area."
And revealing the new plaque and officially opening the new housing block was done by the Mayor of South Ribble Councillor Jane Bell, who spoke of her fond memories of Tom.
Coun Bell said: "Well, how would you say something about Tom? I met Tommy 10 years ago as a colleague on the Council and he became a colleague, he became a mentor, but he also became my friend - it was such a sense of sadness when he died.
"I'm thrilled to declare this building Tom Hanson House - he'd be so pleased"
Councillor Paul Foster, Leader of South Ribble Borough Council said: "This is the first development of homes we have completed in the borough for over 25 years and I'm so happy to be able to pass over the keys to CGA who will manage the homes on our behalf.
"We knew that the borough was in desperate need of affordable housing and to be able to deliver this so soon and under budget despite the challenges faced over the last 12 months is an incredible achievement.
"There was a clear interest in affordable housing in the area - with around 150 active applications on select move-in Bamber Bridge - so I'm looking forward to tenants moving in."
Rob Wakefield, Chief Executive of CGA, said: "When South Ribble Borough Council approached us to see if we would be interested in managing this magnificent building, it was a simple decision.
"The property is a real asset to South Ribble and Bamber Bridge and will make a real difference to people in housing need. A key priority for Community Gateway is to work closely with partners like the council to offer more affordable housing, in turn providing local homes for local people.
"Tom Hanson House does just that and is a great example of what partnership working can achieve."