A MULTI-million pound plan to revitalise two town centres has been unveiled,

New government cash would be part of a £21m upgrade for the main shopping areas of Rawtenstall and Bacup

The schemes are at the heart of Rossendale Council's £17m bid for cash from the government's Levelling Up Fund

The money would be spent on streamlining the gyratory system in Rawtenstall, reconfiguring town's market, redeveloping the site of the existing Bacup Market and creating a new centre for skills education and training in Rawtenstall working with Nelson and Colne College.

Rossendale Council Leader Cllr Alyson Barnes, said: “Rossendale is already a great place to live, work and invest but with a little help and investment from central government we can make it even better.

"Traditionally we have had lower skilled jobs in Rossendale, and we want to improve conditions to attract those businesses that will bring with them higher skilled and better paid jobs.

“That includes making our town centres better to attract investment, boosting footfall in them, improving our road system and opening a skills and training centre in the heart of the borough.”

A special 'Levelling Up Board' - made up of large businesses, smaller- scale entrepreneurs, creatives, community groups and Rossendale Council, Lancashire County Council and the Nelson and Colne College Group - developed the bid.

The fund is a key government policy to tackle the regional gap between income levels across the UK.

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said: “Myself, the council and local business leaders from the Levelling Up Board have put together a really strong plan that I believe to be vital to accelerate the local economy”.

Mike Lane, chair of the Levelling up Board and managing director of Rossendale company, 'We Buy Books', said: “ The projects require around £21million in funding and we’re looking for £17million of that to come from the levelling up fund, with Lancashire County Council and Rossendale Council making up the remainder.”

“We believe we have a put together a strong bid and see this as an opportunity to make a huge difference in Rossendale.”

The bid will be submitted by the first week of August with a decision expected in the Autumn.