WIDESPREAD rumours that a derelict town centre building has been earmarked for use by asylum seekers have been dispelled. But mystery still surrounds work going on at the former Karrimor building in Avenue Parade, Accrington.
It is believed the work is being carried out in a bid to make sure the structure is safe over the festive period.
Speculation among nearby residents has been rife after a burst of activity at the site.
One worried resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "I have heard the building is going to be connected with the accommodation of, or facilities for, asylum seekers.
"Lots of people are talking about it. I heard one man say the council would get £1.4M from the Government if it accommodated asylum seekers."
But Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe poured cold water on the claims, saying: "People's fears are unfounded. The work is to stabilise the building to make it safe."
The building was previously the headquarters of outdoor clothing giants, Karrimor International, which pulled out of the site in 1990 and moved to a new hi-tech factory on the Junction 7 Business Park in Clayton-le-Moors.
Councillor Britcliffe said he had heard someone was keen to buy the building, but he did not know for what purpose.
Director of the council's regeneration arm, Hyndburn FIRST, Mr Nigel Rix, said: "It sounds as though this is people gossiping.
"I'm aware that prospective buyers have stated their intention to progress with the purchase and re-development of the property, but neither the council nor Hyndburn FIRST is involved with the site directly.
"It would not surprise me if the owner was doing work to stabilise the building over the Christmas period or starting the process of regeneration.''