Methodist minister tells Preston Council 'pull your finger out' over plans for derelict church

A Methodist minister has urged Preston Council to "pull its finger out" over deciding the future of an empty church.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 3:47 pm

Rev Ray Borg says Town Hall delays have allowed vandals to blitz Lea Methodist Church on the city's Savick Estate - and needlessly cost the Methodist Circuit £6,000 to erect steel shutters to protect it from further attacks.

"Had the council got their finger out it would probably have been bought and built on by now for social housing," said Rev Borg who was the minister at Lea when it closed down in July 2018.

"But they have been dragging their feet and as a result we are about £6,000 worse off because of it."

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Church bosses have paid out £6,000 on steel shutters to keep vandals out.

The new anti-vandal measures have been installed after a series of incidents at the 1960's church which sits forlorn in an area troubled by anti-social behaviour.

The building has been vandalised, set on fire and used as a drug den since the Methodist congregation moved out to merge with Ingol, Ashton and Cottam.

Rev Borg explained: "When the Methodist Church originally bought the land off the old Preston Borough Council a condition was put into the lease that said if the site was sold again at a future date then the council would have first dabs on it.

"It has taken Preston City Council more than two years to action that and because they have taken so long the building has been susceptible to vandalism by local youths.

Rev Ray Borg wants Preston Council to make a decision.

"We have had to pay around £6,000 to have the place shuttered up with metal sheets - money we wouldn't have had to pay had they got a move on. So my message to the council is 'please make your mind up.' That's the top and bottom of it."

The social housing landlord Community Gateway Association says it is interested in building houses on the site in Birkdale Avenue. It already has a number of new homes on the Savick Estate.

“CGA have been in discussions with the church and Preston City Council for some time now about the future of Lea Methodist Church," said Louise Mattinson, executive director of customers and communities at the housing association.

"We are aware there are some legal aspects that the church and PCC need to resolve before redevelopment can be considered.

The church has been a target for vandals since it closed three years ago.

"We are hoping these can be resolved quickly, as we would like to see the site’s future secured and are keen to provide new, much-needed affordable homes as soon as possible.”

Preston Council said: "We are unable to comment on property belonging to other organisations."