MORE than double the number of wards in East Lancashire are expected to benefit from new state and European aid.

The major beneficiaries of Assisted Area Status (AAS) look set to be Pendle, Burnley and Hyndburn after a lengthy consultation exercise involving lobbying by MPs and council leaders.

Under the AAS programme, which makes firms eligible to bid for extra funding streams from Whitehall and the EU, the number of qualifying wards in Pendle has risen from none in 2007 to 13 for 2014 to 2020.

Burnley only previously had two qualifying wards – Gawthorpe and Hapton with Park – but now also has Bank Hall, Briercliffe, Coal Clough with Deerplay, Daneshouse with Stoneyholme Lanehead, Queensgate, Rosegrove with Lowerhouse, Rosehill with Burnley Wood and Trinity potentially included.

Meanwhile, in Hyndburn, which only previously saw Altham, Clayton-le-Moors and Rishton listed, a further four areas – Central, Church, Huncoat and Milnshaw – are now proposed.

Rossendale had no wards seven years ago but can now boast Greenfield and Worsley wards in Haslingden. However the number of Blackburn with Darwen wards has dropped from 20 to 18, with Corporation Park and Meadowhead expected to miss out. The government’s recommended list still has to be ratified by the European Commission but the announcement has been heralded by a number of campaigners.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, who lobbied for the borough at Westminster Hall and beyond, said: “This is a huge boost to jobs and growth in the Pendle area and I am delighted that ministers have listened to the case we made.

“The maps defining the areas last for six-and-a-half-years so this is not just a short-term boost, but part of a long term economic plan to help grow our local economy.”

Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones has said previously that it was important East Lancashire leaders had worked together on a bid focusing on growth along the M65 corridor.

Business Minister Michael Fallon has described AAS as a ‘shot in the arm for growth and jobs across the UK’.