Surprise gift leaves council still guessing

ST NEOTS Town Council has been left surprised and puzzled after a generous landowner offered them £1million and then vanished. The town council has been trying to contact its benefactor Peter Rowley, the Lord of the Manor of St Neots, for the past week bu

ST NEOTS Town Council has been left surprised and puzzled after a generous landowner offered them £1million and then vanished.

The town council has been trying to contact its benefactor Peter Rowley, the Lord of the Manor of St Neots, for the past week but without any success.

Town clerk, Philip Devonald, said the first he and the councillors about the offer was last week and they were delighted.

"It is such a generous offer and we know Mr Rowley is a frequent visitor to St Neots but we haven't been able to speak to him since he made his offer.


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"We would appeal to anyone who is in contact with Mr Rowley to get him to call us as we don't want to lose this money."

Mr Rowley, an author and a playwright who lives in New York, is apparently going to pay the money to the town council in three instalments of £330,000.

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The first instalment has already been paid into a bank account but the town council has yet to find out which bank has the cash.

Mr Devonald added: "We need to find out if there are any conditions to the money, how he might want it spent and how we can get hold of it.

"I've heard that the first instalment of the money has already been paid into a bank account but we don't know the details of the account."

It has been suggested Mr Rowley would like to see the money spent on a leisure facility for the town and suggestions so far have included an outdoor swimming pool, a cinema and a youth centre.

St Neots Mayor, Councillor Paul Ursell, said: "It's absolutely marvellous news. We haven't had any direct contact from Mr Rowley but he and his family have been generous in the past so we believe this to be a genuine offer.

"We are very grateful for the money and we will discuss ways to spend it with the town council and St Neots residents.

"It could be used for anything but I personally feel it should be used to provide a leisure facility in the town. A million pounds could do a lot for this town and we are stunned and delighted by this generous offer."

The money is believed to be part of proceeds from the sale of Mr Rowley's land at Loves Farm which has been sold to developers, Gallaghers Estates.

The Lordship of the Manor passed to the Rowley family in 1902 and they still hold it today. Mr Rowley's ownership of land to the east of the railway line, including Monks Hardwick Farm, and the Mill at Little Paxton made him one of St Neots' most powerful men.

INFORMATION: What would you like St Neots Town Council to spend £1million on? Should it help attract a cinema to the town, turn the Market Square into a piazza for al fresco dining or build a new outdoor swimming pool?

Send your suggestions to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB or e-mail editor@huntspost.co.uk

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