Blackburn is to see the reintroduction of a circular bus route and a new set of services linking sheltered housing to the town centre under proposals outlined to senior councillors.

There will also be a study into public transport links in and around Darwen.

The proposals are part of a £3.722million long-term enhanced Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) for the borough agreed with the government.

The new services are set to be approved by Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board when it meets on Thursday night.

A report by growth boss Cllr Quesir Mahmood reveals that as part of the authority's deal with the Department of Transport it will get an extra £1.25m for 2023/24 and 2024/25.

This will be spent on the new Blackburn orbital service and the links to sheltered accommodation with the remaining £180,000 going on the study into bus service demand in and around Darwen.

Cllr Mahlmood's report says: "In 2015/16 services linking sheltered accommodation with Blackburn town centre were removed due to funding being restricted for bus services.

"Many complaints have been received from residents living in sheltered accommodation about the lack of a bus service provision into Blackburn where they can use their bus pass, (bus passes cannot be used on dial-a-ride services).

"It is therefore proposed to re-introduce a service linking – • Warrenside Close, Openshaw, Holly Court, Mandela Court and Blackburn Bus Station; • Hornby Court, Bridgewater Court, St Phillips Court and Blackburn Bus Station; and • Blackburn Bus Station with Spring Bank Court, Albion Mill and Brackendale, Tockholes and Belmont.

"This proposal will operate Monday to Friday.

"The current bus services that service the Blackburn area are all radial services meaning that journeys across the area require passengers to change at Blackburn Bus Station.

"It is therefore proposed to reintroduce an orbital service linking into the current network and the retail/business park at Whitebirk, the Hospital, Ewood Park and high schools, St Bede’s, Pleckgate, Witton Park and Tauheedul Girls High School.

"The service will run Monday to Friday 5.00am to 9.45am and 2.00pm to 7.00pm plus an evening provision; Saturday 6.15am to 7.00pm; and Sunday 7.30am to 4.45pm.

"Assuming that both of these proposals are operational for 2024/25 the combined cost will be £550,000 per annum.

"In 2026/27 and 2027/28 there is sufficient funding to provide the service improvements that have been established under the original BSIP funding.

"There will be no funding available to extend the orbital route or the route linking the sheltered accommodation with Blackburn Town centre.

"It is however, our understanding that funding for bus service improvements will continue over the coming years and therefore it is anticipated that funding will become available in future years to continue to provide the orbital route and the sheltered accommodation link to Blackburn."

Cllr Mahmood's report also outlines the new bus routes already operating under the BSIP: * Service 33: Darwen to the Royal Blackburn Hospital extended from three times a day to six times a day - this service also now extends to Blackburn and takes in Shadsworth and Audley Range; • Service 22: Blackburn to Clitheroe extended to run until 11.30pm (we pay for the service up to the borough boundary); • Service 2: Blackburn to Chorley extended to 10.30pm plus three additional services; and • Service 4: Blackburn, Mill Hill, Leyburn Road, re-introduced Sunday service and extended by three journeys in the evening.

The council BSIP spending has also included traffic signal upgrades to speed buses at nine locations, bus stop improvements, two road junction upgrades, fare support for the boroughwide £1 after 7pm initiative and the introduction of borough-wide tap on/tap off ticketing.

* Lancashire County Council's BSIP has seen improvements to the service 6/7 which operates from Blackburn bus station to Great Harwood, Accrington and Oswaldtwistle offering later services, with the final bus from Monday to Saturday now leaving Blackburn at 11.03pm. A number of later journeys have also been introduced on Sundays from 6pm to10pm and the extension of route and timetable of Service 127 in Chorley to create a new link through Astley Village to Chorley Hospital.