The government has announced it is allocating millions of pounds for transport projects in East Lancashire out of a £4.7 billion pot created by scrapping the northern legs of the HS2 rail line.

It has set up a new Local Transport Fund (LTF) to pay for a wide range of improvements to road and rail connections 'people rely on every day'.

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Councillor Phil Riley said some of the borough's 'surprise' extra £117m could be used to upgrade the A666, refurbish the borough's railway stations, and promote the use of of electric vehicles

Over seven years from April 2025, local transport authorities in the north, outside the big cities, will receive £2.5 billion and those in the Midlands will receive £2.2 billion.

Under the government's proposal, Blackburn with Darwen Council will get £116,911,000 extra between 2025 and 2032, dwarfing it current grant of £1.4m a year.

Lancashire County Council - responsible for highways and transport in 12 boroughs including Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale - will receive an additional £494.4m over seven years compared to its current annual allocation of £6.1m.

Cllr Riley, a member of the Transport for the North board, said: “We’re currently working well with the county council and Blackpool to establish a new Combined County Authority, which will support our shared strategic thinking on major transport schemes, including action to improve East-West rail connectivity with improved links to Manchester and Leeds.

Lancashire Telegraph: Council leader Phil RileyCouncil leader Phil Riley

“This government announcement is welcome, although it is fair to say it has come as a complete surprise and there has been no prior discussion.

"However, we are well positioned to frame and drive forward key transport infrastructure priorities as part of a wider £1bn strategic investment programme which aims to support 100,000 jobs by 2035.

“In Blackburn with Darwen, major transport investment will enable us to progress our key priorities more quickly.

“Over the coming months, we will begin to refine our strategic transport plan, with partners, with a view to invest in our key corridors, gateways, and infrastructure to deliver improved economic, environmental and connectivity outcomes from 2025 as part of a seven year investment plan.

“We will review the Government’s guidance and criteria, but key priorities, at this early stage, are likely to include rail and road improvements, including rail connectivity and station works, improving the capacity and performance of the A666, investment to accelerate the delivery of key development opportunities, and measures to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles and other low carbon transport measures.”

"This commitment will also give other public and private investors greater certainty regarding the delivery of critical transport infrastructure that is needed to secure our strategic priorities, which in turn, will support ever-increasing business confidence in the borough.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said "Rather than spending one-third of the government's transport budget on a single rail line between several cities, we're spending it on the transformational projects that matter to people across the country."

On the almost half a billion pounds being handed to Lancashire, County Cllr Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth at the authority, said: "This massive increase in funding means we have the opportunity to deliver some hugely significant transport improvements on a scale that usually only comes about once in a generation.

"We have a really strong track record in Lancashire of delivering major transport improvements, and only last week we hosted Mark Harper, the Secretary of State for Transport, at County Hall to discuss our ambitions, and which this extra funding means we will now be able to deliver.

"We already have a clear idea of the projects we think can bring the biggest benefit to our economy, businesses and residents, and we'll now be talking to Lancashire's MPs about what they see as the key priorities for the communities they represent.

"Together we will work to produce a clear and joined-up vision for transforming transport in Lancashire, and I look forward to starting those conversations over the coming weeks as we await guidance on the type of schemes which will be eligible for support with this funding."