Prime Minister Rishi Sunak came to East Lancashire today and declined to commit the government to funding four major transport upgrades - but did promise to wear his seatbelt this time.

The Prime Minister addressed a Conservative Party event at Accrington Stanley's Wham Stadium on Monday, which followed a visit to the Veka PVCU windows factory in Burnley.

After speaking to an invited audience at the football ground, Mr Sunak was tackled by the Lancashire Telegraph on whether he would ask ministers to consider reopening the railway line from Colne to Skipton, extending the M65 across the Pennines to Yorkshire, creating a regular rail link from Rawtenstall to Great Manchester and improving the road connection between the M66 and M65.

On whether the four transport projects would be financed by the government from the controversial cancellation of the northern leg of the HS2 high speed rail line from London, through the so-called Network North fund, Mr Sunak said that would now be a matter for local politicians.

Lancashire Telegraph: Rishi Sunak at Accrington StanleyRishi Sunak at Accrington Stanley (Image: PA)

He promised: "Every penny that would have been spent on HS2 in the north is staying in the north - that's almost £20 billion of money."

In late December, the Department of Transport shared how Network North cash was being used to fund repairing potholes in London, which is in the south.

Mr Sunak added: "The key thing is that the bulk of that is going to local areas to decide how to invest on their own local priorities, rather than someone sitting all the way down in London or in Westminster saying do this or do that.

"Pots of that money are going to be given to local areas - including Lancashire County Council as the transport authority - in the same way that our big city regions like London, Manchester and Liverpool get these long-term settlements for transport spending.

Lancashire Telegraph: Mr Sunak earlier in the day at VEKA in BurnleyMr Sunak earlier in the day at VEKA in Burnley

"Lancashire and others will be beneficiaries of these pots of money and they are working now with the Department of Transport on their settlement.

"With these projects, it will be for the people here locally and their locally-elected representatives to prioritise what they want to invest in.

"The key thing now is that there will be more money coming to the North-West to invest on all these types of local priorities and ultimately it will be for local people to decide what they want."

The last time Mr Sunak visited Accrington, almost a year he ended up being slapped with a fine after posting a video on social media which showed him as a passenger in a vehicle, in which he was not wearing his seatbelt.

He was asked if he would ensure he wore his seatbelt at all times during this latest visit.

A laughing Mr Sunak said: "Yes. It's been a great trip."

The Prime Minister was also asked if he wanted to see more rigorous and regular fitness tests for elderly motorists after the death of Peter Westwell on Whalley Road, Langho in March 2022.

He was hit by a car driven by 81-year-old Neil Pemberton, who continued to drive despite his being told nine years previously to stop driving due to his failing eyesight.

A court heard he had repeatedly lied to the DVLA to keep his licence, while in a cruel twist of fate his victim Mr Westwell had recently given up his licence on medical advice due to his deteriorating vision.

Mr Sunak said: "I am not obviously familiar with the details of this case but it sounds appalling.

"I am happy to have a go a look at the details of the case and make sure that out systems and processes are as effective as they need to be to make sure things like this don't happen."