THE chair of a historic hall almost collapsed with shock and horror when she opened the water bills for the premises earlier this year.

Instead of being charged around £200 a year the combined total for Churchfield House for 2016/17 and 2017/18 was £6,970.

Lynn Wilson, who chairs the company which runs the building as a community asset, feared that unless the bill was challenged, they could forced to close.

Despite months of wrangling with the third-party firm who had taken over billing Churchfield House Ltd from water supplier United Utilities, there was no sign of progress.

In desperation former Conservative councillor Mrs Wilson turned to then Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones who took up the case.

Finally after he contacted United Utilities it was accepted the concession for Churchfield House had mistakenly not been transferred to the new billing agent and the total for the two years was reduced to £489.

Mrs Wilson was told of the change earlier this month after the General Election had been called and Mr Jones had become Labour candidate for the constituency.

Churchfield House, built in 1851 in the Georgian style, is the home for 15 community groups, has a cafe and hosts functions. It was gifted to the people of Great Harwood by its owner Milton Haydock on his death in 1926.

Mrs Wilson said: “When I opened two bills for a total of £6,070 I almost collapsed in shock and horror. That size of bill could have out us out of business.

“I am very grateful for Graham for getting the concession reinstated and the bills reduced to £489 for the two years. That is doable.”

Mr Jones said: “I was shocked at both the sum United Utilities were asking for and the attitude they had towards the polite requests from volunteers at Churchfield House to revise the bill in light of their normal usage. I am pleased that United Utilities listened to my request to revise the bill, which was lowered to £489. It would be a disaster to Great Harwood if we lost Churchfield House to what was a technical error.”

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “The case was reviewed and the tariff was changed to reflect the fact that they were eligible for a concession.”