Waddow Hall Trust said it is ‘disappointed’ that Nigel Evans had plans to set up a new charity despite having worked with them in the past.

Yesterday, Mr Evans, who is standing as a Conservative candidate at the forthcoming General Election announced he had been asked to head up a charity to manage Waddow Hall by the new owners.

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.

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

Since then, there have been campaigns to reopen the site and Girlguiding UK had been speaking to a number of prospective buyers.

Mr Evans who has been MP for the Ribble Valley since 1992 said he had been campaigning to keep the site open.

On Tuesday he said he was glad the site would be reopened and if the Waddow Hall Trust bid had been successful he would have worked with them.

In a statement, the Waddow Hall Trust said: “You may have seen in the media that Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, has announced that his contact has been successfully selected by Girlguiding trustees as the primary 'preferred bidder' for the purchase of the Waddow estate.

“He has stated that he will be starting up his 'new' charity to get Waddow back in business as soon as possible.

“We cannot confirm any of the above as WHT trustees have respected that all negotiations at this stage are highly confidential at the specific request of Girlguiding.

“However, we are disappointed that Nigel feels the need to start a new charity when he has previously supported WHT and has asked for our help.”

The statement said trustees and the 'Brookhouse Group' were devastated to have been informed by Girlguiding that they were the second 'preferred bidder'.

The statement added: “We are shocked and greatly saddened by this, as we have always acted with dignity and professionalism, working extremely hard to put the estate in the best possible deal in order to make it a huge community-owned success for everyone, in particular the people of the North of England.

“Our partners, the established, nationally recognised 'Brookhouse Group', have strong local and Scouting links and, like us, they are having difficulty processing this decision.

“We do understand that as yet the second choice may still be called back into play and indeed if the negotiations with the preferred bidder go ahead we also look forward to hearing from them in the near future.

"As such we remain, as we have been for the past 12 months, waiting and hopeful.”

Mr Evans shared an update on his social media this week where he said he had fought hard against the Girlguiding organisation last year who were determined to sell the site.

He then went on to share details of plans, saying it had been saved.

On Monday, in a statement he said: “I am delighted this site has been saved and that I have been asked to head up a new charity that will re-open the site to girl guides and other young people for many years to come.”

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph on Tuesday, he said had the bid backed the Trust been successful he would have been ‘delighted’.

He said: “When I was approached by another bidder to reopen the site of course I said ‘yes’ and I am just happy that it will now be used again for its original purpose.

“I have always intended that the trust be at the very heart of the new beginning at the hall. I want them centre stage as they have been incredible at what they do.

“Whilst these are early days my intention is to get youth organisations, guides and community groups using the site as soon as possible - and the trust is integral to this.

“I really am looking forward to working with the trust as we have the same interest at heart.

"This is an incredible opportunity for us all and safe in the knowledge that the site is not lost to all these youth and community groups that will so richly benefit from the site not remaining closed.”