EAST Lancashire MP Jake Berry has vowed to try and save two textile museums threatened with closure by county council cuts.

He said the Labour administration at County Hall’s decision to withdraw grants to Helmshore Textile Museum and Burnley’s Queen Street Mill was ‘disgraceful’.

Mr Berry is to lobby Lancashire County Council, Rossendale and Burnley Boroughs and other interest parties to seek a financial package to save the two vital industrial heritage centres.

The Rossendale and Darwen Tory backbencher, who lives in Helmshore, has been backed by former Burnley MP and Liberal Democrat borough councillor Gordon Birtwistle and county Conservative group leader Geoff Driver.

Under plans outlined on Monday, funding for five museums, including Helmshore and Queen Street, will be withdrawn – leading to their closure on April 1 – unless someone else provides money to keep them open.

Clitheroe Castle will see admission charges rise to cover its costs.

If that fails, it will be returned in 2017 to its owners Ribble Valley Council who pay the county £142,000 a year to run the museum.

Entrance fees will also increase at Gawthorpe Hall, run under a contract with the National Trust on a 99-year lease until 2072. Mr Berry said: “This is a disgraceful decision by the county.

“These two museums are a vital part of East Lancashire’s textile heritage and I am keen to save them.

“I shall be contacting the county and borough councils and anyone else who may be able to help to keep them open.”

Mr Birtwistle: “I shall support Mr Berry in trying to keep these two crucial museums open.”

Burnley-born and Rossendale-raised Cllr Driver said: “I shall be approaching the county Labour leadership, the boroughs and other parties to retain these important museums of our industrial heritage.”

Ribble Valley chief executive Marshal Scott said: “Any decision on the future operation of Clitheroe Castle Museum, including any increase in fees and charges, will be made by the borough council.”

Burnley council culture boss Bea Foster said: “It is very sad that the government’s drastic cuts could result in the loss of Queen Street Mill.”

Queen Street Mill was built in 1894.

It closed in 1982 and was mothballed, but was subsequently taken over by Burnley Borough Council and maintained as a museum.

In the 1990s ownership passed to Lancashire Museums.