COUNCIL bosses are bidding to extend the reach of the prospective 'Darwen Deal' to take in surrounding villages.

Proposals are being drawn up to add Edgworth, Hoddlesden and Lower Darwen into the mix, as Darwen looks to secure a slice of a £3.6 billion funding pot.

The announcement has been welcomed by village leaders, as a 'Darwen Deal' board is brought into being.

In a report to the council's executive board, Cllr Phil Riley said: "The proposed Government boundary is too tightly bound, though there is the opportunity to request a boundary change.

"It is proposed the council works with Government to enlarge the proposed boundary to include Lower Darwen, Hoddlesden and Edgworth.

"This revised boundary will enable the Darwen Deal Board to bring forward growth, connectivity and community interventions linked with and co-dependent on the originally defined area."

Councillors have been told that the total population to be covered by the expanded deal area would still only be around 32,300, leaving it still regarded as one of the smallest areas included in the initiative.

Cllr Jean Rigby, who represents the West Pennine ward, which covers Edgworth and parts of Hoddlesden, said: "It would be nice if we were included in this as we would appreciate any new funding for North Turton.

"I'm not sure what people in Darwen might think about this but we have people across the social spectrum living here."

Deal board members will include Wayne Wild, managing director of Darwen engineers WEC, as chairman, Gary Aspden, the Adidas design consultant and Steve Waggott, Blackburn Rovers chief executive.

Cllr Riley, as vice-chairman, and Cllr John East, Darwen Town Council leader, will also figure, alongside Dr Fazal Dad, Blackburn College principal, and Miranda Barker, East Lancs Chamber chief executive, among others.

An early work programme will cover a town centre renewal scheme, including a business growth zone, and a Darwen Energy Cluster, to deliver a local heating initiative.

Other schemes will focus on developing environmental, cultural and creative and infrastructure initiatives. Investment in key assets such as Darwen Library and Theatre, Darwen Tower, AFC Darwen and The Barlow has been mooted.