ROSSENDALE and Darwen MP Jake Berry has sent an open letter to the leaders of Lancashire County Council urging them to rethink their plans to close Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.

The county council announced plans to close both Helmshore Mill and Queen Street Mill in Burnley in April as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.

But Mr Berry has now handed over a series of petitions signed by over 8,000 people accompanied by a letter to county council leader Cllr Jennifer Mein stating that it was a worldwide treasure that should be saved.

The Tory MP said in his letter: "Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is one of the last working examples of Lancashire cotton spinning and weaving, in Lancashire and in the world.

"Thousands of local people, school children and tourists visit the Mills every year and enjoy the lessons into our industrial heritage, thanks to the hard work and dedication of its staff and volunteers.

"We can save Helmshore Mills Textile Museum if we work together effectively and strategically, to save the world heritage, before its too late."

The proposed closures are part of the council's budget cuts of £65m over the next two years and £262m by April 2020.

Mr Berry said that he intends to do everything in his power to make sure Rossendale does not lose one of its most prized possessions.

He said: "This petition signed by over 8,000 people shows how important Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is for everybody that lives in Rossendale and indeed the whole country.

"I will be doing everything I can to ensure that the museum is not closed by Lancashire County Council and will be submitting a copy of this petition to the Prime Minister at number 10."

In 2009, the museum was named a Quality Assured Visitor Attraction by Enjoy England, joining attractions such as The London Eye and Imperial War Museum that also received the honour.

Rossendale Borough Councillors Cllr Brian Essex, Cllr Peter Evans and Cllr Tony Haworth of the Helmshore ward have all signed the letter to Cllr Mein in support of keeping the museum open.

Cllr Essex said: "The fact that county council are planning to shut Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is disgraceful as they have over £325m in unallocated reserves."