A SENIOR Conservative politician has questioned whether a Labour local authority's purchase of a landmark industrial building could leave it with an expensive 'white elephant'.

Last month Blackburn with Darwen Council revealed it was buying Imperial Mill.

It proposes to restore the giant 1901 building in Gorse Street, Blackburn for employment and cultural use.

But opposition Tory regeneration spokesman Cllr Paul Marrow is alarmed at a reference in a council report that 'urgent works to make the building wind and watertight will be prioritised over the next two to three years'.

He raised the issue with borough leader Cllr Phil Riley at the final Blackburn with Darwen Council Forum meeting before May's local elections.

Cllr Marrow said: "Imperial Mill is 160,000 square feet of building space we're purchasing.

"In the report to the executive board it said we had only done a visual inspection of a 130-year-old Grade II listed building.

"Surely we should have had a proper surveyors report if we were going to purchase it.

"Can you reassure us that we have had a proper survey because the growth and development report mentions that over the next two to three years we are going to be making it watertight.

"I hope we are not going to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a white elephant because in the past we have bought buildings in Northgate which weren't watertight which we have ended up having to knock down to rebuild and put another £400,000 in the budget.

"Can you give us assurances that Imperial Mill is a good sound investment?

"I think it's a great mill. It's iconic and it should be kept and cherished.

"But I do not wish to see this borough throwing lots and lots of money, potentially millions, down a black hole because we haven't done our due diligence as a council."

Cllr Riley replied: "Yes I can assure you of that. We're very much driven by trying to pull together the heritage of the town.

"It is an absolutely noble building and tremendously evidence of the history of Blackburn.

"We have done lots of due diligence. It is a difficult building.

"We needed to do what we had to do and I can absolutely assure you that it won't be a white elephant.

"I'm looking forward to starting to hold some events there.

"We'll be bringing it alive and a way that that building absolutely deserves to be brought alive."