MOLLY Barnes (Letters, February 6) suggests that Whalley Abbey might provide parking for the village in gratitude for all the village does for it.

Whalley Abbey is owned and operated by the Diocese of Blackburn as a conference centre and retreat house. We also operate the tourist facilities which welcome visitors to the Abbey ruins.

We are one of the larger employers in the village, with a permanent staff of 11, as well as many casuals.

The conference facilities are used regularly throughout the year, by secular and church groups and all the parking facilities are usually required by those using the Conference House or visiting the Abbey.

Even if space were to be regularly available, the Abbey courtyard has an ancient cobbled surface which is becoming increasingly fragile and, in its present condition, would not stand up to regular use as a public car park.

The resurfacing of the courtyard is at the end of a long list of fabric repairs planned for the future, but, considering the fact that a full-scale archaeological investigation would be required (for which we would have to pay!) a conservative estimate for appropriate resurfacing is £100,000.

Whalley Abbey does not receive any public funding. Indeed, a recent application for a Heritage Lottery grant has just been rejected. We are working hard to make the Abbey profitable so that our continued future will not be dependent on financial support from the Diocese.

We warmly welcome our links with the village and are grateful that many residents support our work through their membership of the Whalley Abbey Fellowship. Those who don't financially support our work in that way, we welcome as 'paying guests' -- but we do not have the resources to solve Whalley's long-standing car parking problem.

The Rev CHRIS STERRY, (Vicar of Whalley and Ward of Whalley Abbey), The Sands, Whalley.