Dispute over tithe barn grant

Dispute over tithe barn grant

ENGLISH Heritage claims it withdrew a grant allocated for Nailsea’s Tithe Barn as a number of conditions had not been met by the town council.

The restoration project was due to be given a �50,000 grant by the funding body but the offer was later withdrawn.

Nailsea Tithe Barn Trust and the town council are now attempting to raise the extra funds by asking people to sponsor interesting features in the historic building.

Debbie Holden from English Heritage said: “While we agree that this is an important restoration project, the grant was reluctantly withdrawn because Nailsea Town Council failed to comply with any of the conditions of our grant programme.

“In particular, the council failed to properly complete any of the works covered by our grant offer - such as investigative reports and documentary research into the history of the building.

“These are core pieces of research that need to be completed at specific points in the repair programme to ensure that good conservation practice is adhered to.

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“They provide a vital evidence base on which to carry out the physical repairs, ensuring that important historic and material elements of the barn are properly recorded and the works carried out in a historically sympathetic way.”

She added: “As we are responsible for the allocation of public funding, we must ensure that our grant procedures are followed to maintain the accountability of public money.

“Unfortunately, in this case we could not justifiably release any of our grant aid because none of the works towards which this funding had been allocated had been carried out in the way specified by English Heritage.

“We are pleased though, that the council is focusing its energy on exploring other avenues to make up the current shortfall.”

The claim is disputed by Nailsea Town Council which says it tried on many occasions to meet with English Heritage to discuss the situation.

Nailsea town clerk, Ian Morrell said: “English Heritage chose to unilaterally withdraw the grant for the Tithe Barn for reasons that the town council strongly disputed at the time and continues to do so.

“The allegation that we failed to comply with any of the conditions of the grant application is factually incorrect.

“To put this into perspective, we have satisfied all of the requirements made by Heritage Lottery Fund whose grant is ten times larger than the one withdrawn by English Heritage.

“Unfortunately English Heritage refused to meet to discuss the matter despite repeated requests and written explanations of the council’s position.

“However, the council accepts that the matter is closed and is therefore surprised and disappointed that English Heritage should have chosen to raise it again in this way especially when the facts of the case are disputed.”