DARWEN residents are to be asked whether they want their own town council in an election-style vote in September.

Council bosses have confirmed a referendum will take place in the town as part of a major revamp of council structure.

Next week ruling councillors will agree plans to divide Blackburn with Darwen borough into five neighbourhoods, each with their own forum which will be given £50,000 to spend every year.

Andrew Lightfoot, the council's deputy chief executive, said: "Historically, this marks a massive change of direction for the borough."

Depending on the outcome of September's referendum, Darwen will either form its own town council or be allocated a neighbourhood forum.

The Lancashire Telegraph's We're Backing Darwen campaign is calling for a better deal for the town, with a town council among the key aims.

The referendum, which is likely to cost £30,000, will pose a specific question for townspeople to vote on, which is likely to be set by the council's executive board in June.

Blackburn with Darwen council has already carried out its own poll of residents, which shows opinion is split - with just under 40 per cent of Darweners in favour of a town council, the same amount against and the rest unsure.

The precise details of the changes have yet to be decided, but a panel of neighbourhood representatives, which could include councillors and volunteers, will sit on each forum.

They will hand out cash to community projects and could have the power to comment on planning applications.

Bosses predict some council services, like street cleaning and traffic calming could be divided up between neighbourhoods in the future.

Unlike the forums, a town council would be politically independent to the district council, and would cost taxpayers a small amount each year to maintain.

There are six parish councils already in the borough, with costs varying depending on their powers.