It has been sitting untouched in a town council bank account for more than five years – but could Helston’s pot of cash from the sale of its community building soon be actually spent?

Proceeds from the sale 3 Penrose Road have been tied up in a legal loophole ever since it sold in 2012 to the organisation now known as CAST.

Two thirds of the £165,000 sale price is restricted by an act of parliament that states the money can only be spent on “scientific and technical instruction” due to intentions of the building's benefactor Passmore Edwards.

Helston Town Council, which controls the money, has so far struggled to find a project that fits within these confines.

However, there is a new hope. Derek Thomas, Helston’s MP, has been asked to look into whether the act can be repealed so that the money no longer has such restrictions.

If achieved, it would free up the £106,000 - the proportion of the £159,000 left once fees had been deducted - to be spent on any project in the town.

Town clerk Chris Dawson told the Packet: "Anybody that looks at it will realise it's an archaic act that was to get people into industry training, so you would hope in this day and age, where training is readily available, you don't need any act of parliament to build a technical college; really it is outdated now."

He said Mr Thomas had written to communities and local government minister Sajid Javid to begin the the process of attempting to remove the act, but the council had been warned it "could take some time for a response."

The issue was raised again recently when the town council reviewed its “strategic plan,” which looks at the different projects it hopes to achieve between 2016 and 2021, along with how they should be prioritised.

Among the list is the sale money, which the council wants to “invest [the] capital receipt with a view to purchasing land to conform with the Technical and Institutions Act 1892.”

This has already been marked as “high” on the agenda, but councillor Dave Potter said he would like to see it “become a priority” – with or without the act being lifted.

He said: “I would like to see it become an agenda item. I understand the money has been in place for a number of years now.

“We all know how long it can take to repeal acts. We may need to look at [a project] within the area boundaries of that [act].”

It was agreed that the council’s policy, finance and resources committee should carry out at more detailed discussion at its next meeting, before bringing back a revised list to the full council.

The remaining proportion of the sale price that could be freely distributed, £53,000, has already been awarded by the council to the Epworth Hall, to provide disabled access.

Contracts were exchanged for 3 Penrose Road in July 2012, after Helston Town Council agreed to rescind the existing contract made with John Stansbury at auction the previous November 4, as he had failed to complete the sale even with an extension of time.

The building was bought jointly by Sir Nicholas Serota and Teresa Gleadowe of Porthallow, with Karen Townshend, of Kestle Barton near Manaccan, matched the previous auction price and then transferred the building into the control of a new trust they set up, the Cornubian Arts and Science Trust (CAST).

It was the third attempt that the trio had made to buy the building, having put in a £100,000 pre-auction bid the previous year under the name Cornwall Arts Centre Trust, which was rejected, and then bidding at the auction before the price went beyond their limit.

Helston Town Council first suggested selling the building back in 2008, prompting 400 protestors to gather. It closed as a community centre at the end of February 2011.