Financial woes spell the end for gardens

The newly restored Wentworth Castle Conservatory
The newly restored Wentworth Castle Conservatory
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Historic Wentworth Castle Gardens - South Yorkshire’s only Grade I listed landscape - is set to close after Barnsley Council withdrew financial support.

The visitor attraction at Stainborough near Barnsley has been propped up with council grants of £233,000 in the last two years, accounts show. But although it generated a £75,000 surplus in the year to March 31, 2016, it made a loss of £221,205 the year previous. Its last day will be Easter Monday, April 17.

The accounts also show a pension deficit of £595,000.

Wentworth Castle and Stainborough Park Heritage Trust is part of the South Yorkshire Pension Fund which could end up picking up any shortfall.

Meanwhile, creditors were owed £497,000 as at March 31 2016 – almost all of it loans from the council.

The site, famed for its listed monuments and £3.74m restored Victorian glasshouse, has received £22m over the last 14 years including £12m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A spokeswoman said they could consider clawing some of it back.

“Where contractual obligations relating to a grant cannot continue to be met, the possible recovery of money is an option we will consider.”

Coun Roy Miller, Barnsley Council cabinet spokesperson for place, said: “Wentworth Castle has not been able to make enough money to cover the running costs.

“The council has already provided support amounting to £1.4m. In addition to this, loan repayment holidays were authorised and support in kind was given.

“The business model is not sustainable and it would be wrong to continue to support it at funding levels that would require considerably more support than the council provides, especially as visitor numbers and income are falling.”

Licensed insolvency practitioner Paul Moorhead, of Rotherham-based Moorhead Savage, said: “We have been approached by many charities and third sector organisations for advice about their options if the money runs out.

“The key issue for trustees is to take action to limit any losses rather than struggle on and make things worse.”