TOWN hall chiefs have refuted claims the sale of a school painting to fund repairs was illegal.
South Fylde political blog Counterbalance suggested the sale of the Captain of the Eleven by Thames School in South Shore, contravened rules set out to protect local authority assets.
The County of Lancashire Act 1984 says any income from selling donated works of art should be re-invested in other art works and cannot be spent on projects such as repairs.
But legal bosses at Blackpool Council today said since becoming a unitary authority in 1998, the council was no longer governed by the act.
A spokesman for the authority said: “This section of the County of Lancashire Act 1984 refers to district councils. Blackpool Council is a unitary authority.
“We cannot see how this piece of legislation would be relevant in the circumstances of this matter.”
Counterbalance had claimed the council “might have broken the law by selling the painting from Thames School with the declared intention of using the proceeds to repair the fabric of the school”.
The blog backs up its claims by referring to Section 58 of the act which covers the disposal of works of art.
Paragraph Four says: “Any moneys received by a district council in the exercise of the powers of this section shall be applied by them in the purchase of specimens, works of art or books.”
The artwork, which was painted in 1882 by Philip Calderon, was sold in July for £290,000 at London auction house Bonhams.
It had been on display at Thames School for 86 years after being donated by former governor Coun W.D. Hallstead and raised nearly double the amount expected.
The money will pay for building repairs and enable valuable investment in the school.
After inclusion in the Pears Annual, published in 1898, the image was reproduced on countless posters and postcards.
A reproduction of the painting will hang at the school where the original used to be displayed with a plaque commemorating the gift.
When the sale was announced in June this year, headteacher Tracey Harrison said it had been a difficult decision to make. She added the money from the sale would be “ring-fenced and used for a specific project at the school which we are yet to decide”.
But the sale of the painting prompted display in some quarters. Former Thames School pupil Sidney Yates of Arnold Avenue, South Shore, said he had been saddened because the painting had been an inspiration.
In a letter to The Gazette he said: “The proper place for it was The Grundy Art Gallery, and a replica placed in the school hall to continue inspiring children.”