COUNCIL chiefs in Darwen were left baffled after being told by the Government their local county association was in Bedfordshire.

Darwen Town Council had written to Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles asking permission to borrow money to buy the former HSBC bank as part of plans to launch a Darwen Heritage Centre.

But bemused council clerk Rebecca Hay received an email from the department advising her to contact the Bedfordshire Association of Local Councils.

An email from Midi Zeroual, who works for the department headed by Conservative minister Eric Pickles, said: “Your first step should be to contact your local county association (in your case Beds) affiliated to the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).

“Beds ALC will give you the guidance and the application form for borrowing approval that you need to complete.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said: “It is disappointing to say the least that our own local government minister thinks Darwen is in Bedfordshire.”