A council has been condemned for failing to spend enough cash on buses for one of its main towns.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Sir Jake Berry says Darwen has been left out of plans to boost services.

He has raised the issue at Transport Questions in the House of Commons as Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board approved its £3.7 million long-term enhanced Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) for the borough.

It includes the reintroduction of a circular Blackburn bus route and a new set of services linking sheltered housing to the town centre.

Lancashire Telegraph: Darwen Town Centre Image: Archive

There will also be a study into bus services in and around Darwen.

Conservative backbencher Sir Jake said: "We want bus links between Edgworth, Chapeltown, and Bolton.

"We want a better link between Darwen and the hospital and we want the council to restore the school bus to Canon Slade that they axed last year.

“But guess what Blackburn Council have done? Of the £3.7m I secured last year from Government, 95 per cent of it will be spent in Blackburn.

"And all Darwen and the rural villages get is £180,000 for a ‘study’ into bus service demand.

“We know what the demand for buses is in and around Darwen - they don’t need to waste £180,000 on a study!

“I am not happy, so I’ve raised this in Parliament and the minister will be writing to the Council.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Phil Riley said: “This is a national government scheme and the council has worked really closely with the Department of Transport in putting together this allocation.

"We have jointly done a great deal of analysis to focus on the right services at this time, and it is disappointing but completely predictable that Mr Berry has chosen to take this particular approach, and to try to set Darwen residents against Blackburn.

“We have also had further discussions with the department around future demand for bus services across the borough, in particular Darwen and the surrounding rural areas, and we have jointly agreed to commission a study into bus service demand.

"We will be working with the department and their consultants Arup to develop a plan for this.

“We are pleased the government is encouraging bus travel and improvements.

"We are absolutely committed to making improvements for all our residents, making buses more frequent and reliable and adding routes.”

In the Commons Sir Jake asked bus minister Guy Opperman: "Would you be as surprised as I was to learn that, of the £3.7m long-term BSIP Government cash given to Blackburn with Darwen Council, only £180,000—less than five per cent of the entire budget—is being spent in the town of Darwen?

"It is all very well to give money to councils such as Blackburn with Darwen, but will you ensure that it is spent fairly among the populations they represent?"

Mr Opperman replied: "This is money that the government gives to ensure that communities receive support.

"It should not be solely focused on one area. I will take up that point and write to the local authority myself."