CAMPAIGNERS have dealt a blow against political correctness by forcing councillors to restore a stag's head hunting trophy to a public building.

The historic stag's head reckoned to be the largest and last stag ever killed in Rossendale was taken down on the instructions of a former council chief executive.

Owen Williams wanted the deer, thought to be around 200 years old, removed from Bacup planning offices, based at Stubbylee Hall, as he thought it didn't fit in with the council's corporate image'.

But today Kathy Fishwick, from Rossendale Civic Trust, said: "A large number of people would like to see it back where it belongs because it has been moved unnecessarily. It's part of the area's heritage and history it was political correctness gone mad."

The trophy is being kept in storage in Manchester.

But, following a public outcry, council chiefs have promised to take the head back to the former mansion in the autumn.

Some see the stag's head as a remnant of the Victorian age when the display of stuffed animals and hunting trophies was in vogue.

Others are worried at the thought of losing the deer, which they view as part of the heritage of the historic hall, and a reminder of the coat of arms of the old Bacup Borough, which features a stag on the crest.

Ms Fishwick said: "Owen Williams when he came here decided it wasn't PC and it had to go, but he has left now and nobody quite knew where it had gone to."

Ken Bowden, secretary of Bacup Natural History Society, added: "It is reasonable to suppose the stag could have belonged to the last occupant of the hall, James Maden Holt, who died in 1911, and who bequeathed it to Bacup Town Council.

"It was first brought to our attention on April Fool's Day that it had disappeared although it was no joke. As it happens, we were interested in possibly acquiring it for Bacup Nat. We did manage to locate it, but it wasn't practical for us to take custody of it.

"We were led to believe that with listed buildings anything that is fixed to the building will be part of it and it shouldn't have even been taken away in the first place, so we are pleased to hear it will be going back where it belongs."

Rossendale Council's George Graham, executive director of resources, said: "It's going back to Stubbylee Hall. At the moment there is a whole debate about this and we can be politically correct both ways on this one."

The RSPCA'S Heather Holmes said: "It's up to individuals to do what they want with things like this.

"Obviously the RSPCA doesn't support hunting and has lobbied hard to get the laws changed. This happened more than 100 years ago.

"Fortunately because of the hard work that's been done to ban hunting this wouldn't happen today."