COUNCIL bosses could back plans to restore three historic town wells despite only one of them being in local authority ownership.

The historic wells which previously served as water supply to Clitheroe residents should be treated as an important cultural asset, councillors will hear.

Ribble Valley Council community services committee members will receive an update on work to identify ownership of the wells so heritage lottery fund cash can be put to use restoring them.

A report to go before the committee states ownership of Towns Well and St Mary's Well is unknown, while it has now been established Stocks Well is already under the council’s ownership.

Committee members will be asked to decide whether to make a small grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund purely for the regeneration of Stocks Well on condition the council can secure insurance cover, or to support and underwrite a bid by the Clitheroe Civic Society to refurbish all three wells.

Head of cultural and leisure services, Mark Beveridge, said: "Following the last committee, officers have been in contact again with the Heritage Lottery Fund to discuss making a small grants application, however the problem of ownership with the Heild and St Mary’s Wells remains the same, i.e. ownership cannot be proven.

"Any attempt to obtain title to the land by means of an application to the Land Registry based on missing deeds, when the evidence points towards Clitheroe Corporation never having owned these two wells, would be a deception.

"In order to apply for registration based on adverse possession the council would need to show evidence that the council had taken factual possession of the land, had an intention to possess the land, has done so without the owner’s consent, and these conditions have existed for at least 12 years.

"The council would not be able to establish this.

"The council’s corporate management team have considered the response from HLF and concluded that the committee needs to advise officers on the route they wish the council to take.

"It was agreed that the wells are an important cultural asset that deserve attention to maximise their value.

"How that outcome is achieved is the issue."