COUNCIL bosses have asked Whitehall for around £3m to replace lights covering part of the M65, the Lancashire Telegraph can reveal.

Controversial proposals to remove lights between junctions 10 and 14, as part of work to replace the central reservation, attracted a chorus of disapproval earlier this year on safety grounds.

But now it has emerged that the Labour-controlled county council has appr-oached the Department of Transport seeking extra funding to install new lights - as the current ones will need to be removed when a concrete barrier is installed along the route.

County Coun Azhar Ali, who represents Nelson South and is health and social care cabinet member, said the authority had been left with no option but to replace the lights, as a precursor to the new central reservation proposals.

“I fully support the replacement of the lights because it has a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of people in East Lancashire. That is why we have asked the government for help,” said Coun Ali.

The Lancashire Telegraph has campaigned against the lights being switched off overnight, and has won the backing of a number of MPs, and emergency services representatives. And it has also been confirmed that any work on the central reservation and lights will not now begin until 2015.

Phil Barrett, the county council’s highways services director, said replacing the barrier would reduce the risk of serious collisions by preventing vehicles from crossing onto opposite carriageways when accidents happen.

But he added: “The work could not take place before next year in any case as we’ll be carrying out work to the barriers and bridge parapets along the hard shoulder later this year, and the two schemes could not be done at the same time.”