HYNDBURN Council leader Peter Britcliffe has scotched rumours that Accrington Town Hall could be turned into a super-pub or an art gallery after a controversial sell-off.
Councillor Britcliffe dismissed the possibility but admitted asking community group leaders to gauge opinion from residents about the proposal.
And, in a double whammy, the neighbourhood representatives who met Councillor Britcliffe at his community consultation panel were asked to consider the introduction of car parking charges at the Arndale Centre - on which Hyndburn Council owns a covenant.
Speaking after the private meeting, Councillor Britcliffe said: "There are no plans whatsoever for either a sell-off of the Town Hall or charges being introduced for Arndale parking."
But he added he "could never say never".
Laneside Residents' Association chairman Peter Shaw, who attended the meeting, said: "I am sure there was a large element of truth behind it. The council has been in a black hole regarding money and it's looking to realise every asset it can.
"Generally the community wants to keep ownership of the Town Hall.
"I think there could well be an outcry if it left public ownership.
"There were a variety of suggestions at the meeting - one to use it as a pub and Councillor Britcliffe mentioned Wether-spoon's - but that was just an example. Another was to turn it into a museum or an art gallery for public use. But the feeling was that would mean selling off the Haworth Art Gallery because it is out of town."
Mr David Jones, Arndale Centre manager, said: "We have heard nothing about the implementation of parking charges and it's hard to say what the impact on trade would be. It depends how much the charges were."