BOLTON has been selected as one 50 local authorities in the UK which will benefit from cash to help fund the fight against Muslim extremism.

A £5 million fund has been unveiled as part of what Prime Minister Tony Blair has called a "radical and head-on" confrontation.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman confirmed Bolton had been selected, but said the borough would only get a share of the cash if the department was happy with how the council planned to spend it.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said the "battle for hearts and minds" could not be won from Whitehall as she set out fresh guidance on the role town h alls can play.

In the wake of the arrest of nine terror suspects in Birmingham last week, she warned that action is more urgently needed than ever.

"We need a new, strengthened partnership and unity of purpose to isolate those who seek to divide us," she said. "This new, more local approach will help reach directly into communities to support the law-abiding majority in tackling the false and pernicious ideology spread by extremists.

"In the past, government has relied too much on engagement with traditional leadership organisations. As the events of the last week show, community tensions are high in some parts of Britain and the security threat remains serious.

"The battle for hearts and minds is more important than ever, as is the need for closer working together."

Around 50 local authorities - mainly in Britain's major cities - are working with local Muslim communities to devise new approaches, to be funded by the Pathfinder scheme cash.

It is part of a wider government effort to prevent a repeat of the July 7, 2005, attacks in London when 52 commuters died in suicide bombings during the morning rush hour.

Over the next few months, Ms Kelly will also meet former extremists who were persuaded by community efforts to return to the mainstream.

"We can't win the battle of hearts and minds from Whitehall, it can only be to be won in local communities. But we can provide more support and strategic leadership," she said.