Plymouth Park Pharmacy collection at risk over debts

Image caption,
The collection has been in the hands of a trust since Mutley Plain pharmacist Charles Park retired

A collection of Victorian potions from a former Plymouth pharmacy could be sold to pay debts to the city council.

Park Pharmacy Trust, which looks after the Victorian artefacts, failed in a 2008 High Court challenge against a city council planning decision.

As a result it was left with a £58,000 bill to pay the council's legal costs.

The council has now offered to write off most of the legal bill against the charity, but said the collection could be sold off to pay the debts.

The trust was created after the retirement in 1983 of pharmacist Charles Park from his shop in Mutley Plain, Plymouth.

It created a museum of items from the pharmacy at Merchant's House.

The legal costs came after Plymouth City Council granted planning permission in 2006 to demolish a garage and redevelop the site of 54 Thorn Park, including part of the rear garden of Thorn Park Lodge.

The trust, which occupies the lodge on a lease from the council and uses the gardens for educational purposes, made a legal challenge but lost.

The council said in a statement that the collection may have to be sold to pay off the trust's debt.

It added that it was keen to protect the future of the Park collection, but it did not believe the tax payer should be left out of pocket because of the trust's actions.

The trust has also been told it must vacate Thorn Park Lodge and pay bailiff's fees.

Dr Jan Knight, chairman of Park Pharmacy Trust: "I just cannot understand how they can consider even doing this.

"You would have thought the council would have said OK, we won, but let's have a truce.

"The bailiff's fees alone are £5,000 and we haven't got that."

Mr Park's daughter Jane Stockall said: "We are very sad because my father put his trust in the trust and Plymouth with this collection.

"It's a gem and we would urge both sides to come a sensible solution."

BBC Inside Out South West will be reporting on this story at 1930 GMT on 21 February.

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