A CONTROVERSIAL regeneration scheme could be rocked by another cash crisis.
Despite securing £820,000 in rescue funding, the high-profile Project Phoenix might be forced to take a crash landing because of a predicted £500,000 shortfall.
This means West Accrington homeowners could see a repeat of this year's funding crisis, which led to some residents being trapped in condemned houses after the council ran out of cash to buy their homes and help them relocate.
Those left behind told how they were living lives of utter misery in "disgusting street slums" with boarded-up houses and broken windows, plagued by thieves and vandals.
The extra funding, secured last month, was expected to solve the problems.
But Nigel Rix, director of the council's regeneration arm Hyndburn FIRST, told the latest Cabinet meeting: "On the basis of current cost estimates, taking into account inflation in house prices over the last 12 months, it is still likely the council will face a funding shortfall of approximately £500,000 towards the end of the financial year."
Last month residents of Lonsdale Street described the area as "a ghost town" full of "disgusting slum streets".
They fear the project - which is designed to transform rundown West Accrington into new prosperous estates - is destined for more trouble.
Joan Pilkington, of West Accrington Residents' Association, said: "This will probably cause the same problems. The scheme has gone on forever and now inflation is causing a problem. The whole thing is an absolute shambles."
She added that the PACT board (People of Accring-ton and Church Together) ring-fenced £2M four years ago from the North West Development Agency. She claims Hyndburn FIRST was so slow in applying for the money it lost out entirely.
"That's about the gist of it," agreed Joseph Treacy, chairman of the residents' association."My personal opinion is that millions of pounds of Government money has come into Hyndburn during the last three or four years and most of it has been spent on salaries or consultants.
"That is very frustrating for people in the community. Since 2001 only three commercial garages have been pulled down. They haven't completed the purchase of one single terraced block, and there seems to be something in the psyche of Hyndburn Council that nothing can ever be done quickly."
Responding to the comments, Mr Rix said: "Have you seen the Sure Start Centre? Have you looked at the Globe Centre, which provided new jobs? About £1.5M has been put into buying and knocking down homes, and that's not gone on salaries and consultants.
"The point about community cohesion is we are looking to improve life across the divides."