COUNCIL bosses have been blasted for their decision not to buy the historic house where the Bronte sisters were born.
Villagers in Thornton, near Bradford, were hoping they could become the new first stop on the literary tourist trail, overtaking the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth.
But now Lottery cash is the last hope of the Bronte Birthplace Trust after a meeting in Thornton tonight to discuss Bradford Council’s refusal to help.
The Trust had asked Bradford Council to buy the large family home where the Brontes lived before the move to Haworth. Supporters said it could be snapped up for £130,000.
But Councillor Andrew Thornton, executive member for environment, said: “We explored a number of ways in which we might offer assistance for the Bronte Birthplace Trust to make an offer for the property.
“However, as the council is not in a position to acquire the building for itself, we were not satisfied that this was a justifiable use of public money or a reasonable intervention for us to make in competition with any private individual seeking to purchase the property.”
Trust chairman Steve Stanworth said: “We are of course extremely disappointed.
“Our initial thoughts are the Council are not supporting a local community in its bid to claim its rightful place on the Bronte way.
“We now have to regroup and press on with our Heritage Lottery Fund bid. We still hold out lingering hopes someone will invest in the project.”
A monthly update meeting at the Blue Boar inn, Thornton, will determine the Trust’s next move, he added.
But local councillor Valerie Binney, who had begged council bosses to buy the house, was already convinced a huge opportunity had already been missed.
She said: “We get lots of tourists from Japan and America and local walkers visiting Thornton to see the house on Market Street where the famous sisters were born and to visit the Old Bell Chapel where Patrick Bronte preached.
“Patrick said that the five years he spent in Thornton were some of the happiest of his life.”
Councillor Binney added: “It is very shortsighted of the Council when the Government has just announced a fund for keeping our history alive.”