Lancashire

Weddings and wind farms plan to plug Lancashire County Council deficit

Gawthorpe Hall Image copyright Lancashire County Council
Image caption Gawthorpe Hall is owned by the National Trust but operated by Lancashire County Council

A Grade I-listed hall that hosted Charlotte Bronte could become a wedding venue to help a council plug a £144m funding gap.

Renting out 17th Century Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham is among proposals by a taskforce set up to generate cash from Lancashire County Council's assets.

The council will also consider building wind and solar farms to raise money.

Other suggestions include turning an outdoor education centre into a luxury hotel.

According to a report due to go before councillors on Friday, the council will face a £144m shortfall in finances by 2021-22 unless it identifies new streams of revenue.

'Exploring opportunities'

It suggested using Tower Wood Outdoor Education Centre in the Lake District as a "high quality" hotel or bed and breakfast and recommended further studies on developing wind and solar farms to power council buildings and sell energy to the National Grid.

The report also raised the prospect of charging drivers to use electric car plug-in points.

Interim chief executive Angie Ridgwell said the council was exploring opportunities to monetise buildings and land, but could not give further details until more work had taken place.

"We're always looking at suitable ways to bring revenue into the county council," she said.

Gawthorpe Hall is owned by the National Trust but operated by Lancashire County Council, which is responsible for its upkeep.

Built between 1600 and 1605, the hall reopened in April 2016 after undergoing £500,000 renovation work.

Jane Eyre author Charlotte Bronte stayed at the property in 1850 and 1855.

Councillor Tony Martin, who represents the Burnley Central ward, where the hall is situated, said any revenue raised from private events at the hall would have to be shared with the National Trust.

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