Leyland town centre regeneration put on hold

Leader of South Ribble Council, Margaret Smith

Leader of South Ribble Council, Margaret Smith

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Plans to regenerate Leyland town centre have been put on hold for at least another few years, it has been revealed.

South Ribble Council wanted to create a town square outside the United Reformed Church and upgrade the pavements.

Last year, the council said it planned to spend £290,000 on Leyland town centre improvements in 2014/15, but this work has been pushed back to next year.

Council leader Margaret Smith said this was because the work needed to be ‘phased’ and other areas of South Ribble needed urgent attention.

Now, it looks like the scheme could be pushed back even further.

Longton is the only parish to receive a cash boost this financial year, with £90,000 set aside for village improvements.

Labour leader Matthew Tomlinson accused the Conservative-led council of cherry-picking parts of South Ribble where they are likely to get the most votes in May’s elections.

Coun Tomlinson said: “The Conservatives are spending money in Conservative areas, so there’s nothing for Leyland, Bamber Bridge or Penwortham, which are areas that consistently vote Labour.

“There should have been money for Leyland this year but it’s been pushed back – that’s not surprising in an election year.”

Coun Smith said plans had not been pushed back for political reasons, insisting Leyland’s delay was the result of a knock-on effect from other areas taking longer to develop than expected.

“If we go back to when Labour was in charge at South Ribble, they had a masterplan for Leyland and they did nothing with it – it just sat there.

“When we took control, the first thing I said was that Leyland needs attention. It’s the centre of the borough and it took quite a while to reorganise the masterplan.

“After that we turned our attention to Lostock Hall and Higher Walton, and next Longton.

“Penwortham was on the agenda for last year too, but that was tied up with plans for Sainsbury’s to move to the area. The plans fell through and it left us out in the cold.

“Now Penwortham is being worked upand we’ve turned our attention to Longton.

“Bamber Bridge is next, so everything has been pushed back. Nobody is to blame, it’s just a case of trying to pull all of these schemes together.

“We’re not just picking areas because of the election – we’re moving on in an ordered fashion.”

It had been thought that £190,000 would be put into Leyland in 2015/16, and a £100,000 in 2016/17. But Coun Smith says she is unsure if that timescale will still go ahead, depending on other schemes.