Council bosses have moved to set the record straight over their town centre plans.

Leader Coun Miles Parkinson has claimed opposers of the £2 million public square and linked improvement works are ‘arguing for the status quo’.

The Heritage Lottery has provided £1.5 million towards the works, with around £500,000 being contributed by Hyndburn council. A further £700,000 will also be invested by the council on restoring shop fronts and making building repairs along Blackburn Road.

At a recent cabinet meeting, he said: “We must be mindful when people want different things that the Accrington town centre public realm is being funded by the Heritage Lottery scheme with the district council putting some money into it.

"The town centre is tired and needs public realm improvement.

“In life nothing is perfect but that’s the only option on the table to get inward investment. The amount of funding to do the other options is not available by the district council and certainly not by Lancashire County Council.

Council leader Miles Parkinson

“It will benefit everyone, not just the stakeholders and retailers, but make people proud of our town centre and make it a feature.

“Our town centre portfolio holder will be working closely with stakeholders to ensure that shopkeepers and retailers take advantage.”

Coun Parkinson also cited the massive hike in online sales over the recent Christmas period.

He said: “We are all aware of the Christmas figures with internet shopping going up by 57 per cent. We do live in a changing world and retailers need a website base and shop is something which is ancillary. We have to move on with the times.”

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Dobson urged for an analysis to be carried out on the impact of the internet on the town centre.

He told the meeting: “When we look at the vision of the plan for the controlling group around upscaling town centre traders, if you look at some of our most successful town traders they do have a very big internet presence and a small retail shop.

Coun Tony Dobson

“I just think we as a council should be a driving force to be able to educate and galvanise these people to come and see the future because we are criticised a lot.

“There doesn’t seem to be any vision about what the town centre is going to look like, the size of it, the shape of it and the complexity of it.”

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