A market and a shopping arcade in two East Lancs town are among the beneficaries of government funds designed to replace old European Union grants.

Councillors in Rossendale have been deciding how to spend their £2.6m allocation from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).

Haslingden Market is earmarked for £500,000, made-up of £300,000 from the SPF and £200,000 from Rossendale Council.

Funding will be used to focus on expanding the market’s offer and could also provide for spill-out seating or pop-up stalls, encouraging entrepreneurship and promotional space for existing businesses.

This will add to National Lottery Heritage Fund community projects such as cookery demonstrations and craft sessions, and lottery-funded redevelopment of the town's Upper Deardengate.

There will be further talks with existing traders and the Haslingden 2040 Board, and a concept design for the redeveloped market.

And at Waterfoot, £300,000 is earmarked to explore options for the future use of Trickett’s Arcade’ The interior of the arcade has been empty and vacant for more than 70 years and there are a number of vacant units outside.

Currently the exterior of the building is in declining condition and needs work.

Whitaker Park at Rawtenstall will have refurbished play facilities for a wider age range of youngsters along with paths, drainage and gulley improvements. Work with the Lawn Tennis Association will reinstate two old tennis courts.

At Haslingden’s Victoria Park, an existing skateboard area will be upgraded and the park’s gate entrance enhanced.

Other projects include nearly £800,000 up until spring 2025 for town managers and town centre caretakers. Town managers will be a key point of contact for local businesses and groups. Town caretakers will provide fly-tip removal teams for each town centre.

Elsewhere football pitches will be improved with £250,000 from the SPF, planning agreements cash and money from the Football Foundation.

Funds will be used to replace two existing 3G outdoor artificial pitches, and provide one new pitch at Valley Academy in Bacup, Haslingden High and the Adrenaline Centre at Haslingden.

Labour Cllr Patrick Marriott welcome the proposed £300,000 for Waterfoot and Cllr Liz McInnes highlighted support for parks and a new Whitaker Park friends group.

Conservative group leader David Foxcroft said: “It’s  fantastic to see such significant central government investment coming to Rossendale Council.

"We also want to ensure the role of town centre managers can move towards self-funding, so they do not come to an abrupt end.”

Fellow Conservative Cllr Jenny Rigby, also welcomed the Waterfoot funding and asked for an update on any plans to regenerate the wider town centre.

Conservative Cllr Granville Morris generally welcomed the funding. He wanted Haslingden to get a ‘fair crack of the whip’  and would like to see more investment.

But the borough’s wait goes on for a separate government decision on a larger £18m Levelling-Up bid for Rawtenstall and Bacup town centres. A government decision is now expected in the new year.

Council leader Cllr Alyson Barnes said: "The Levelling-Up bid was submitted in July and an update came recently from Sarah Britcliffe MP, who has kindly sent some information to me.

"There has been an added delay regarding how it will be assessed. Apparently there has been a high number of applications and high quality bids, so the government is asking for extra time until the end of January for a decision.

“The pot has also been increased from £1.7bn to £2.1bn. We feel the Rossendale bid is excellent and hope it is successful.

"We urge all councillors in touch with our MP to ask him to contact the government and lobby strongly for the borough.”

Cllr Barnes also said tthe SPF process was not competitive bidding between different councils to the government. But Rossendale Council still had to bid for the cash.

However, the £2.6m government funding was welcome and a £200,000 contribution would come from the borough council towards work in Haslingden.

Work is proposed over three years. Council economic development officers would agree some of the details and work with the cabinet member with the remit. Update reports are expected at future council meetings.

But Cllr Barnes added: “There was three times as much money available to communities through the European Union as there is through this Shared Prosperity Fund. I’m not quite sure why the government calls this activity levelling-up.”

Community First 's Cllr Alan Neal said: “I remember the old £35mi Single Regeneration Budget and other towns doing quite well. I also remember Boris Johnson saying the NHS would be £350m better off every week after Brexit.

“I want the whole of Rossendale to do well. But I also know that Lancashire councils have spent a total of over £29m in the process of applying for these funds. It’s strange that no MPs ever mention that. We put in a lot to get a little back. These figures were discussed ata recent meeting in Preston.”

His colleague Cllr Dayne Powell added: “I welcome this funding but I’m slightly disappointed at the sum and what funding could have been if we had kept like-for-like funding after leaving the EU. I thought all revenue streams would be protected and communities would get funding. I also accept Whitworth is not in this list but I understand it doesn’t meet the criteria. But some money would be nice.”