PUMPS and drainage experts were out on Darwen’s new Market Square after it became ‘a paddling pool’ just days before the town’s annual Food Festival.

On Thursday night borough regeneration boss Phil Riley promised Blackburn with Darwen’s Council Forum the recently tarmac-covered space would be dry for today’s event.

Food festival organiser Samantha Taylor yesterday confirmed pumps were removing the surface water and new drains were being laid.

She said: “Blackburn with Darwen Council have been fantastic.

“The marquees are going up and nothing has been delayed.

“The food festival is right on track and there will be staff there in the day to make sure to stop the problem recurring before it can start if it rains.”

Whitehall LibDem Cllr David Foster asked Cllr Riley: “Are you aware we have a new paddling pool in Darwen?

“The tarmac square where the three day market used to be is now covered in several inches of water.”

Cllr Riley said: “I promise it will be dry for the food festival.”

Yesterday he said: “Something as gone wrong and we are putting it right.

“The surface is porous, we are pumping the water away, a new gully has been laid and we are looking at the drainage with the contractors.

“If mistakes have been made we will put them right.”

Cllr Foster said: “This has to be put right permanently.”

He added: “I am worried the drains have been covered up.”

The square will be used for the town’s Christmas festivities before being turned into a three-zone public and events space with work due to start in the spring.