One of the two most deprived wards in Lancashire is in Hyndburn, according to a shocking report identifying widening inequalities between the county’s rich and poor.
Central ward is ranked 300th out of 301 electoral areas across the county on average household income, which has fallen alarmingly in the last 12 months by over 8 per cent to just £18-19,000.
Only Daneshouse with Stoneyholme in Burnley is placed lower, while Church ward is also ranked in the bottom six, with a mean household income of £21-22,000, down 6.5 per cent in a year.
The report, published by the county council, finds that most of the more affluent wards are in rural areas close to the major urban centres. These represent popular areas for commuting to Manchester and Liverpool.
Central councillor Mohammed Ayub said: "Investment needs to go into Central and Church wards. Jobs are scarce so it’s difficult times coming from these two wards. The only big thing at the moment is Tesco so hopefully that will bring some more jobs and money to the area."
Tariq Ali, chairman of West Accrington Residents’ Association, said: "To say that Central and Church are in the bottom six does shock me because there’s some very big companies here and there’s a genuine mix of people. Of course a rural area will always be a wealthier area because of the price of property, but I choose to live in a more urban area because of access to a mosque and a school."
Overall, Hyndburn is in the bottom three Lancashire County Council districts equal with Pendle and Burnley on an average income of £30-31,000 - a 0.9 per cent drop from 2009.
But six Hyndburn wards - Baxenden, Altham, Huncoat, St Oswald’s, Clayton-le-Moors and Overton - are placed above the county average.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe laid the blame squarely at the door of the outgoing government.
He said: "It is rather strange that this should have happened under a Labour government who are supposedly committed to the opposite. While it is good to know that six of our wards are above the county average it does show the extent of the problem, one of the reasons we worked so hard with Tesco to bring much needed employment into the borough creating over 450 jobs and hopefully boosting spending power in areas like Church and Central.
"We will strive to bring more jobs, but everyone appreciates that is not easy in the economic storm we have all been going through."