The management team behind the Lytham Hall restoration scheme has publicly challenged a damning report on its efforts for the first time.
Last year the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced it was rescinding a £1.7m grant towards the project after it emerged that the capital works for which the cash was earmarked had not taken place.
The fall-out from the controversial move last month led to Fylde councillors calling for the removal of the boss of the management team, John Miller, chairman of Heritage Trust North West.
Fylde Council, which had put £300,000 towards the project to restore the Grade I-listed mansion to its former glory, also imposed a list of conditions for its contributions to remain in place.
But John Turner, trustee, of Heritage Trust North West and member of the Lytham Hall executive, stated that while the Trust accepted many of the HLF concerns raised in the consultant’s report and was seeking to remedy them, the Lottery body had misunderstood some key points and the report had been rushed.
And he also called on all parties – including Fylde Council – to stop bickering and work together on the project.
Mr Turner, said: “We have been constrained from speaking publicly about this before without written permission from (the consultants) Moore Stephen, who have just given us permission.”
The report was written after the consultant visited the Trust, on behalf of the HLF, to carry out an external review of its “organisational and project finance”.
Its contents led the HLF to rescind its grant, after criticisms around “project delivery”, “the accountant not being qualified” and a key figure’s “lack of involvement in decisions”.
The Trust says a qualified accountant would cost up to £40,000 a year to employ but would “not guarantee there will be no errors”.
The report states: “There have been a number of concerns surround the financial stability of the Trust including substantial current liabilities in excess of current assets, which suggested an immediate cash flow crisis.”