Lifeline to save borough’s only hostel?

Earby and District Local History Society's Margaret Brown and Wendy Faulkner led a history walk starting at Earby Youth Hostel as part of Pendle Walking Festival in 2015 (s)
Earby and District Local History Society's Margaret Brown and Wendy Faulkner led a history walk starting at Earby Youth Hostel as part of Pendle Walking Festival in 2015 (s)
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Pendle Council has agreed to transfer Earby Youth Hostel to a local trust or Earby’s town council to keep it open as a youth hostel.

The decision was taken at the latest meeting of Pendle Council’s Transfer of Services Committee after Coun. David Whipp raised the issue.

The Friends of Earby Hostel were left “gutted” by the YHA’s decision earlier this month to not renew its lease on the hostel, the only one in Pendle.

In its reasoning for closing the hostel, the YHA stated that “the hostel is dated and does not meet the standards required by the YHA”.

It added that “although current trading levels have improved, the business is still marginal and represents a risk of reputational damage for new customers to the YHA”.

Despite there being a desire to see the hostel remain open, Earby councillors and volunteers are now facing a race against time to try and sort something out before January.

Coun. Whipp said: “Pendle Council owns Earby Youth Hostel as a result of the last rescue of the building.

“Several years ago, the YHA wanted to close the hostel and sell off the building, me and Pendle director Brian Cookson travelled to the YHA HQ in Derbyshire to negotiate a rescue package which involved Pendle Council buying the building and leasing it back to the YHA on favourable terms.

“Last Friday (September 9th), the YHA informed Pendle that they wouldn’t be renewing the lease at the end of October. This has subsequently been extended to January, but there isn’t much time to save the hostel.

“With huge government cuts set to see Pendle’s annual spending slashed by a third, almost £5m. in the next three years, the borough council is already transferring property and services to parish and town councils or community groups. This is the best hope for the youth hostel.

“Whatever the outcome of discussion with the YHA, Earby’s hostel can remain in the safe hands of a local trust or the town council.”

Coun. Chris Tennant, Chairman of Earby Town Council, said he was aware a number of improvements need to be made but there are a lot of discussions to be had.

Coun. Tennant added that the council needs to establish the costs involved but believes it would take on the “valued asset” if it was achievable.

He said: “We, being myself, Bob Abel and Coun. Mike Goulthorp are trying to get a meeting with the YHA to quantify their reasons and what it needs to improve it and keep it open.

“We have started looking at approaching different bodies to put a funding package together to bring it forward.

“I think we would be happy as a town council to take on the youth hostel but realistically we do not have a bottomless pit of money.

“It could be an enterprise hostel. I know they work. However at the moment I don’t think we have the expertise or resources on the town council to run it as an enterprise hostel full time.

“Meanwhile, there is a huge amount of letter writing going on with people telling the YHA they are disgusted, will be resigning their membership and that the YHA is not a Travelodge.”

Secretary of the Earby and District Local History Society, Margaret Brown, said: “I hope something can be done to keep it open.

“From a personal point of view, it’s important for walkers doing the Pennine Way and for people cycling. Pendle wants to encourage people to come and visit and we don’t want to make it harder for people to stay. There isn’t much accommodation in the Earby area.

“I also feel that when it was left by Katharine Bruce Glasier, it was to be used for people to enjoy a reasonable accommodation and these reasons are very much still relevant today.

“The hostel is also an important piece of Earby’s history. There is evidence that the old Corn Mill behind the hostel goes back to the 1400s and there is evidence along the beck that may go as far back as Roman times.”