Basildon's landmark glass campanile, the only one of its kind in the world, may be demolished if a bid for Millennium Commission funding is turned down.
St Martin of Tours church, which owns the 27 m high tower, owes £500,000 to Mowlem, the main contractor on the project.

The tower was the brainchild of St Martin's former rector, Lionel Webber, who went ahead with it before funding was in place. The project had a total cost of £660,000.

A hearing at the High Court in June, instigated by Mowlem, heard that the Webber had issued Mowlem with six or seven cheques over an 18-month period, but none had been honoured.

A spokesperson for the contractor said: "We are still working with the church council. I suspect this [the bid for lottery money] is part of their attempt to raise funds."

A commission spokesperson confirmed that the church had made a bid for lottery funds.

Work on the tower came to a halt two years ago when it became apparent that the church could not pay the contractor and it has been cordoned off ever since.