LIB DEM councillors in Pendle have called for a fairer deal for smaller town centres in the borough after they were snubbed for regeneration cash.

Pendle Council was awarded £100,000 last month to help breathe new life into shopping areas, and chose to split the cash between Nelson, Colne and Barnoldswick to deal with the problem of empty shops.

But councillors representing the Lib Dems said the money should have included Earby and Brierfield.

The row is set to be the first test of the alliance formed between the Lib Dems and Conservatives in May to create a council majority over the Labour group.

Lib Dem Coun David Whipp said: “Pendle was awarded £100,000 to help revitalise shopping areas. Last month the Conservative majority on the council’s executive voted to stop smaller shopping centres getting any of this funding, with the lion’s share going to Nelson.

“The day after their decision, Nelson was selected as a Portas Pilot and awarded £100,000. It’s wholly unfair that struggling shopping centres in Earby and Brierfield are missing out on this money.

"We are calling on Pendle Council to back a fairer way of using this money to bring some benefit to all parts of Pendle.

"In total, there is £200,000 of funding available; our smaller centres should share in this opportunity to get improvements.”

The first allocation of £100,000 saw £61,000 head to Nelson, £26,000 to Colne and £13,000 to Barnoldswick.

Coun Whipp will now raise the matter at the full council meeting next Thursday.

“Conservative councillors made the original decision on the assumption that Nelson wouldn’t be chosen as a Portas Pilot,” he said.

“It’s grossly unfair for our smaller communities to miss out when Nelson is getting a double dose of funding.”

Conservative Coun Joe Cooney, leader of the council, said: “The money is going where it is needed most and will complement the Portas money.

"We could have split it differently, but it would have been a small amount going to Earby and Brierfield and wouldn’t have made a difference.”