CLITHEROE Castle has been given 'Full Accreditation' status by Arts Council England.

The national recognition supports Lancashire County Council's efforts to make the museum profitable.

If it does not become viable, the castle will be handed back to Ribble Valley Borough Council who pay the county to run it as a tourist attraction.

News of the award came yesterday just 24 hours before the county council's Cabinet considers in private a report on efforts by the Conservative administration elected in May last year to save two other museums - Queen Street Mill in Burnley and Helmshore Textile Mill - from closure.

The future of all three historic tourist attractions was controversially put under threat by the county council when under Labour control in 2015 in a bid to save cash.

Cllr Peter Buckley, county council culture boss, said: "This really is fantastic news.

“It’s been a very long and rigorous process. The accreditation enables museums and governing bodies to assess their current performance, and it supports them in planning and developing their services.”

Stuart Carefoot, chairman of Ribble Valley Council’s community services committee, said: “Clitheroe Castle is a central part of the borough’s tourism offer, attracting thousands of visitors a year."

He added: “The museum was the subject of a £3.5million refurbishment by Ribble Valley Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund several years ago, and we are delighted that Lancashire County Council’s management of this first-class facility has been recognised by the Arts Council.”