A UKIP candidate has been urged to apologise for ‘scurrilous and baseless’ accusations about the regeneration of Farnworth town centre.

An election leaflet for Will Pilkington, who will stand for UKIP in Kearsley at next May’s local elections, claims that plans to redevelop Brackley Street and the former Farnworth Market have been ‘scrapped’ by developer St Modwen.

He also questions the whereabouts of £325,000 given to Bolton Council by Tesco to spend on improving Farnworth, which was granted as part of the deal for its Long Causeway store.

The claims have sparked fury from Labour councillors in Farnworth, who say they threaten to undermine the delayed regeneration plans.

Cllr Jean Gillies said: “By making these kind of scurrilous and baseless comments he is not only deliberately misleading the people of Farnworth and Kearsley, he also potentially undermines the whole of the project, which is designed to regenerate the centre of Farnworth, bringing new jobs to local people.

“The fact of the matter is that the Section 106 money from the Tesco development is secure and will be spent on the refurbishment of Brackley Street, which is still scheduled to go ahead in March 2018.

“This part of the development is the only section that is owned by the council. The Brackley Street refurbishment, along with the works that are being provided by TfGM, demonstrate the council’s commitment to the wider St Modwen scheme, and the overall regeneration of Farnworth.

“There have been unexpected delays with getting the St Modwen town centre development project off the ground, but we can confirm that it is still moving forward with negotiations taking place in January 2018 with the authority and others.

“All of this information has been in the public domain, as Farnworth councillors have continually kept local people informed at each stage of this journey.

“There is no doubt that UKIP and Mr Pilkington, do actually hope that the St Modwen scheme has been ‘scrapped’ as he states, in order to try to score political points.

“However, they have actually scored a political own goal by making these ridiculous statements.

"Mr Pilkington needs to go and find the correct information and check his facts before spouting lies and accusations against the council.

"I await his apology to local people.”

St Modwen’s plans to build a new shopping parade in Farnworth were due to be completed last year, but work is yet to start.

At a meeting last month, council planning boss Paul Whittingham told Farnworth residents that the original development plans for the town centre were ‘unviable’ due to the discovery of utilities services through the middle of the site.

Bolton UKIP leader Cllr Sean Hornby said he will not ask Mr Pilkington to apologise for the comments made in the leaflet.

He said: “If anyone should be apologising it is the Labour Party and the Labour councillors which have neglected the Farnworth people for too many years now.

“The Brackley Street area has been talked about for far too long — shop owners have deserted, it had a thriving outdoor market now gone despite calls to save it.

“The truth is the people of Farnworth and Kearsley are fed up of the false promises made.

“The people of Farnworth have been taken for granted which has led to the formation of the new political party, Farnworth and Kearsley First.

“I will not be asking Will to apologise. The truth is his comments are comments echoed by many in the area.

“Several years ago, the Tesco approved planning application on Long Causeway included section 106 money which was ring fenced for Brackley Street.

"What has happened to this money? Has it been spent somewhere else or has it had to be returned due to a time limit like most 106 agreements?

“Cllr Gillies, who I have a great deal of respect for, said at a recent area forum meeting that her understanding was that St Modwen was now working on a revised plan.

“But she gave a scathing assessment of their protracted inactivity: ‘I had 100 per cent faith in them, but now it’s got to this point I’m fed up. I have no faith in them anymore.’”

Farnworth was recently put forward to for an Andy Burnham-led scheme to re-energise town centres by supporting the building of new housing.