THE charitable trust running Hyndburn's sports and leisure services has given six months' notice to quit and hand them all back to the council.
Hard-up Leisure in Hyndburn, set up in 2001, made the bombshell announcement this week.
Rumours have been rife for several months that the trust was in serious financial difficulties despite an annual £890,000 cash injection from the council.
It runs Hyndburn Sports Centre, Mercer Hall in Great Harwood, Accrington Town Hall including the information centre, Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre, Rishton Primetime and 10 community centres, as well as providing such facilities as sports development teams.
In a statement it said: "The decision has been taken with deep regret. The board felt that if it carried on it would have had to make significant cuts in services to reduce expenditure.
"It is the board's view that the current funding arrangements with the council are inadequate and had reached the stage where refurbishment and development of the ageing facilities was being impeded.
"Since the trust took on the management of sport and leisure and cultural services it has invested some £1.2M in the facilities.
"However, over the last two years it has not been able to maintain the rate of development and refurbishment required because of significant increases in costs, especiallty in energy, insurance and staffing.
"Unfortunately the board has concluded that the council, although sympathetic to the trust's problems, has given no clear indication of any intent to review the funding arrangements."
Once the hand-back has been completed on 31 January the trust intends to disband.
In the meantime it will operate as normal and will meet the council to ensure a "seamless" transition.
The statement concludes: "This decision has not been taken lightly and the trustees are still willing to agree a suitable solution with the council."
Hyndburn Council's deputy managing director Steve Tanti said: "We are currently looking at ways of delivering leisure services in the future."
He said this review would be carried out urgently but it was too early to say whether the council would take direct control of the facilities once again.
Leisure in Hyndburn was set up as a non-profit-making organisation and has two councillors on its board. It signed a 10-year deal with the council with the option of ending the agreement by giving six months' notice.
Mr Tanti said that some facilities, such as the sports centres, generated income but others were a public service, which was why the council gave the annual grant.
l The trust's financial plight was discussed in January when the council agreed to make a one-off extra payment of £85,000 to ease its cash flow problems.
But Labour leader Councillor Graham Jones said it was funding the trust's bad decisions and wage bill with taxpayers' money.
Another councillor described it as "like plugging a black hole".