HOUSE prices in Burnley remain in a slump and are falling further behind neigh-bouring towns, a new report has revealed.

Burnley Council leader Gordon Birtwistle said the report, drawn up by his staff, was a stark reminder of why the multi-million-pound regeneration of the town under the Elevate scheme was so badly needed.

The report reveals that the average price of a house in Burnley was still just £55,000, compared to £120,000 in Bury, and £150,000 in West Lancashire.

The difference in price of the average house is now £16,700 between Burnley and neighbouring borough Pendle.

And, according to the report, there are fears property speculators are cashing in by buying cheap houses in the town and selling them on after making a quick profit.

It also found that 16per cent of homes were empty in Burnley, compared to the national average of 3per cent.

Coun Birtwistle said the report presented a "diffi-cult message" for those who were "currently suffering" due to the slump. He added: "The people of Burnley should be involved in the housing boom, not looking on from the outside.

"They deserve to benefit, to buy a home as both somewhere to live and as an investment.

"We've always known we were in this for the long haul.

"We have to continue to tackle supply and demand, demolish unwanted homes to build new, quality homes, continue making housing improvements and keep taking steps to tackle anti-social behaviour.

"And we have to do it as fast as we possibly can."

The multi-million-pound Elevate scheme will see housing and environmental improvements over the next decade across Burnley Wood, South West Burnley, Daneshouse, Duke Bar and Stoneyholme.

Coun Birtwistle added: "We are committed to this regeneration - all we need is national government to deliver on their commitment to fund Elevate, as they promised, for the next 10 to 15 years to ensure that regeneration takes place."