Vicar hits back over church hall £150,000 row

The row over Garstang's new parish and community hub has continued with a church leader hitting back at claims made by Wyre Council leader Peter Gibson.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 1:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 4:08 pm
Photo Neil Cross Rev Stephen Grey in the new community hub next to St Thomas's church on Church St, Garstang

In March 2015, the council offered £150,000 to help St Thomas’ new church hall become a community hub but the money never materialised, leaving many wondering where it went.

And now reverend Stephen Grey is responding to Coun Gibson who says the money was never a gift and the church never provided any quotes for the work.

Rev Grey said: “Throughout the 13 month period the church has been in negotiation with Wyre Council we have acted with utmost integrity, professionalism and always cognisant of the needs of all.

“To read Councillor Gibson’s article left us somewhat bewildered and we never considered the money a gift.”

The row centres on a £150,000 grant allegedly promised by the council but which never materialised. Coun Gibson insisted the cash was never intended as a gift and was not handed over when the church failed to provide figures for the work so they presumed the money was no longer needed.

Now Rev Stephen Grey has hit back, describing his reaction is “one of profound shock and extreme hurt” after reading Coun Gibson’s comments in the Courier earlier this month.

At the time the church was also selling its hall and Coun Gibson says the council’s money wasn’t needed. And now Rev Grey has responded saying: “The sale of the old hall and how much was left to fund the new hall was fully discussed and taken into account. At the beginning of January we received an email from the chief executive reporting that negotiations would have to cease as Wyre Council were considering other options.”

He then says a number of potential never materialised and that the church never considered the money to be a gift but “a way of Wyre offering its support to the Community and Parish Hall Project”.

Coun Gibson says he stands by his comments and disagrees with Rev Grey.