A LOCAL authority is seeking to buy its main town's shopping centre, the Lancashire Telegraph can reveal.

Burnley Council has made a bid for the Charter Walk complex which was put up for sale in June.

The authority has instructed officers to put in an offer for the shopping centre in the middle of Burnley.

It is understood to be lower than the £26.5million originally asked by owners Tristan Capital and Addington Capital.

The council's finance boss Cllr Sue Graham said buying Charter Walk would be good for the borough and the town.

The 280,000 square foot centre is home to national retailers including Boots, Wilko, Primark and JD Sports and has an underground car park.

The authority is also masterminding a £21million project for nearby Pioneer Place in Burnley including an eight-screen Reel cinema, five restaurants. shops and car parking.

Minutes of the private part of the July 14 executive meeting of Burnley Council says: "The Charter Walk shopping centre is an important asset in Burnley town centre that contributes significantly to the vitality and viability of the town and to the wider economic and social wellbeing of the borough.

"The ownership of this asset will enable the council to actively manage and regenerate the shopping to the benefit of the borough in line with the council`s wider aspirations for the town centre."

The decision to bid was confirmed after a vote in the private part of July's Full Council meeting eight days later which agreed a multi-million pound budget for the purchase and last month's executive authorised the authority's legal and financial directors to make the final bid and draw up a contract to buy the centre.

Cllr Graham said: "The council is making a bid for Charter Walk and its car park.

"It is a very important part of Burnley and in good condition.

"I think buying it would be an excellent deal for the town because it would secure and protect the future of a major asset.

"We are investing a lot of money on improving the town centre and this would be part of that."

Cllr Alan Hosker, leader of the authority's Conservative group, said: "I personally don't support it.

"We are already investing millions in Pioneer Place and I think the costs will fall on council tax payers which is unfair.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Gordon Birtwistle said: "I think this a good idea and will complement Pioneer Place."

Cllr Mark Payne, leader of the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party, said: "It is risk given the current retail situation but we cannot let Charter Walk go to rack and ruin."