A FUNDING gap of £3.5million must be plugged before major flood prevention work can benefit an East Lancashire town.

West Craven county councillor David Whipp has become increasingly frustrated over the progress of schemes to protect Earby.

The area was badly hit by the Boxing Day floods of 2015 and campaigners are still waiting to hear if cash can be found to prevent a similar disaster occuring.

Work to overhaul the blocked Victoria Clough culvert, halted after engineers hit rocks, is set to resume later this month, focusing on a culvert under the disused railway embankment.

But no date has been set for a further phase, to reduce the flood risk from Earby Beck and New Cut, even though Pendle Council has secured £635,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.

Cllr Whipp said that working with the Environment Agency had been like "trying to push water uphill".

Storage containers for new deployable flood barriers had been provided by the borough council and Earby Town Council had bought a high-capacity pump, he said.

And Lancashire County Council had cleared 11 tons of silt from culverts and drains along Skipton Road.

Cllr Whipp added: "There have been some small gains over the past three years but major improvements are as elusive as ever."

An Environment Agency spokesman said the leading options, storage of Earby Beck and a flood wall along Albert Road next to the New Cut, had already been presented to Pendle Council.

It was estimated that this solution would cost around £5million. A further £1million is available in grants, leaving a £3.55million gap.

"The agency and its partners are working to refine final costs, explore ways to reduce costs and seek additional sources of funding," he added.