WORK has begun to repair paths and improve drainage in a ‘neglected’ and badly rain-hit Darwen wood.

The Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood have launched the £3,190 prog- ramme of works which will see some disruption to wood users and walkers.

The work, which will be funded by Darwen Town Council, will see the wood’s eight main paths repaired and new drains installed.

It is the latest in a long line of projects by the Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood, who have spent more than £100,000 on restoration and maintenance with thousands sourced through various grants.

Friends group chairman Dennis Gillibrand said: “Repair work is being undertaken on the paths and drains in the wood.

“We have started with surface work on the Falcon Avenue path, which people have stopped using recently because of its condition, and covering eight sections of the wood. It has suffered quite a bit of neglect in the past couple of years and we have had a lot of problems with the rain.

“We also have new drains of various lengths being put in.”

The cash for the work has come from the town council’s parks committee, which set aside £50,000 for 2012 to 2014.

Coun Dave Smith, who represents the Sunnyhurst area and is chairman of the town cou- ncil’s parks committee, said: “We approved the grant and it was ratified by the full council.

“It is mainly for work on the outer bits of the wood that no-one ever gets round to doing.”

Coun Smith reserved praise for the friends group, which he said had done a great job over the years.

“He said: “It is fantastic what they have done, especially in terms of raising grant money.

“But that is the whole point of having these friends groups. With all the cuts to local government funding over the years, independent friends groups applying for grant money is the only way we can get a lot of jobs done.”