A BOROUGH is to take back looking after a historic house after the not-for-profit company which ran it as a community hub folded for lack of volunteer workers.

Hyndburn Council’s cabinet has confirmed that the authority will accept the surrender of the lease on Mercer House, a Grade II-listed building in Clayton-le-Moors.

Built in 1802 by printer Thomas Hargreaves, it was later occupied by John Mercer, the inventor of the Mercerisation process for finishing textiles.

The need to take back the lease follows the collapse of the Mercer 1842 company which had occupied the building in Mercer Park for ten years.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said the organisation had run out of volunteers to run it.

The company also ran the Arthur Wilson Centre, a community hub in Pickup Street.

Mercer House itself was used as a base for local groups and a meetings venue.

The cabinet confirmed a decision to accept the surrender of the current 25-year lease from Mercer 1842.

It authorised council officers to begin negotiations with potential future occupants.

The report to councillors said: “Mercer House 1842 is proceeding to dissolve the company.”

It says accepting the surrender of the lease will avoid the council losing control of the building and the re-letting process of the the lease of the dissolved company vested in the Treasury via The Duchy of Lancaster, warning this would ‘result in a considerable delay to the re-occupation of the property and making the building vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and degradation for the foreseeable future’.

Their report says: “In January 2020 Mercer House 1842, vacated the building and it has been vacant ever since.

“The council has incurred the cost of the liabilities arising out of the building by undertaking works in default of the tenant’s obligations in order to protect the property that has been held in Charitable Trust by the Council since 1916.”

Cllr Parkinson said: “Mercer House 1842 and its volunteers have done fantastic work for ten years but now there are no longer enough individuals with the time to carry that work on.

"The company is not being dissolved because of financial issues."