A senior politician is proposing to set up a charity to save an East Lancashire stately home and estate as an outdoor activity centre.

Nigel Evans, who has served as Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley since 1992 and is standing for election again next month, has been in talks with one of the bidders to buy Waddow Hall outside Clitheroe.

If the prospective purchaser is successful in buying the 17th Century manor house and grounds, valued at more than £3 million, the 66-year-old has announced he will take control of the property and set up a charity to run it as community activity centre.

In May 2023 Girlguiding UK announced it was to sell Waddow Hall and its four other UK activity centres as it could not afford their upkeep.

Mr Evans, a former House of Commons deputy speaker who is a general election candidate on July 4 in the redrawn Ribble Valley Parliamentary seat, has campaigned since then to rescue the site as an activity hub including working with the Waddow Hall Trust set up to save it.

Nigel with volunteers at the hallNigel with volunteers at the hall

The manor house and grounds, which has been managed by Girlguiding UK since 1927, closed on December 31.

Since April, Mr Evans has been in talks with one of the potential buyers, and if their bid is successful he will take full control and establish a charity to reopen the hall for use by Girlguiding and other youth groups as before.

He said: “I was shocked when I was told that Girlguiding UK had decided to close and sell Waddow Hall.

"It is incredibly important that young people are able to use spaces like this, and it has come as a great loss for many youth groups after the announcement that it was being sold.

“I have been speaking with one of the bidders of Waddow Hall, who wants it to remain as a site for youth groups.

"I am grateful that it seems to be on track for the sale to go through, after which I will set up and head a charity, allowing groups to come back to Waddow Hall as soon as possible.”

Waddington, Bashall Eaves and Mitton Conservative Cllr Sophie Cowman said: “I camped there as a youth, as have thousands of young people over the decades.

"It is an incredible facility which should never have closed. It will be beyond a dream to get it re-opened.”