Blencathra bid group to return £246k donations

Image caption The mountain was put up for sale in an attempt to settle a tax bill

A community group set up to buy a mountain in the Lake District has been told to return thousands of pounds it received in donations.

Blencathra was put up for sale by the Earl of Lonsdale in May 2014 to help settle a £9m inheritance tax bill.

The Friends of Blencathra raised about £246,000 in an attempt to buy it for the community.

However, they admitted defeat in September when told they would need to offer in excess of £1.7m.

The fell was later withdrawn from sale.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the friends group said it has been advised by the Charity Commission that it is legally obliged to return the donations, including those which were less than £10.

Spokesman Dave Wheeler said the group wished to commence the refund procedure "as soon as possible" and was in discussion with the commission over the process.

Any money that cannot be returned will be given to charities working to preserve the Lake District's landscape.

A commission spokeswoman said responsibility fell to the group to contact donors.

"They must also advertise to give any other donors who can show they made a donation the opportunity to reclaim or disclaim their donation.

"Trustees are permitted to retain from each donation a sufficient amount to cover the administrative expenses of return," she added.

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