£3m Llanthony Priory bid 'could be scuppered by councillors'
FEARS have been raised that a £3million bid for funding to secure the future of Llanthony Secunda Priory could be scuppered by councillors.
City council plans to hand over control of the historic Grade-I listed priory to a trust were halted as councillors demanded more information.
The handover, seen as crucial to the success of a multi-million pound bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, may now not happen until December.
Liberal Democrat group leader Jeremy Hilton won a 'call-in' of the hand over plan because he remains unconvinced about the council losing its right to claw back ownership of the property if the Llanthony Secunda Priory Trust collapsed.
He also wanted reassurances that public access would be maintained.
He said: "We need to be very cautious. There are six Grade-I listed structures on the site and it is an ancient building. We need to make sure the site is secured for the future."
A full meeting of councillors is expected to consider the handover on November 28.
But councillor Pam Tracey (C, Hempsted and Westgate) has called for urgent talks after fears that delaying further could affect the trust's bid.
She said: "The trust has done a wonderful job with the priory and delaying this only sets about jeopardising the bid.
"It is terrible and very short sighted. This should not have happened.
"I want to see if we can meet before the next council because time is of the essence."
Trust bosses say they need to break free from the council if their £3million bid for cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund is to be successful.
But their bid is due to be considered by the HLF on or around November 19, more than a week before the council will meet.
Trustee Jeremy Williamson, who is also vice-principal of the neighbouring Gloucestershire College, previously said: "The trust has in six years raised £300,000 for the priory and I can't see what the problem is.
"The priory has very much been opened to the public for people to enjoy."
One of its most recent public openings was for the first Gloucester Stone Carving Festival which ran over a three-day period in May.
The priory dates back as far as 1136. The first Llanthony Priory, near Abergavenny in Wales, was seized by Welsh rebels in that year. Llanthony Secunda, at Gloucester, was founded to house the fugitive prior and about 20 canons.
By 1150 the new priory had stately buildings in a landscape of gardens and vineyards.
By the 16th century it was the sixth largest Augustinian house in England.