CROWN Paints is poised to invest up to £500,000 in a new polymer plant at its Darwen factory saving 18 jobs and raising hopes for new ones.

Two grant bids of £37,000 each for council and government cash are due to be decided today.

Paper work authorising investment of between £400,000 and £500,000 to build the new plant for the key product is at the Copenhagen headquarters of Crown’s parent company Hempel awaiting signature.

If the investment goes ahead, it will be a major vote of confidence in the firm by its Danish owners which bought the company, Darwen’s largest employer, from Akzo Nobel in 2008.

Fears for the jobs were raised when the building holding the existing polymer plant was deemed unsuitable last year.

Since then Crown bosses, the GMB trade union and Blackburn with Darwen Council have worked to assemble an investment package to secure its future and that of the 18 staff working on it.

Confidence is high the investment will go ahead.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry and Labour’s candidate for the marginal seat Will Straw have hailed the good news.

Regenerate Pennine Lancashire will today decide on Blackburn with Darwen council’s bid to grant £37,000 of Assistance to Industry cash to the company.

An independent panel will consider a linked application from the government’s Accelerating Business Growth Fund.

A spokesman for the company, which employs 500 in the town, said: “The management team at Crown Paints is currently in discussion regarding plans to make improvements to its Darwen polymer plant.

“These plans are currently in the process of internal due diligence and all employees will be kept up to date on their progress. The GMB Union have been fully involved in the dialogue.”

The plant’s GMB convenor Bob Welham said: “I am confident this investment will go ahead. It is a good sign for the future.”

Mr Straw said: “I was concerned jobs were at risk and asked borough regeneration boss Maureen Bateson to do all she could to help.

“If the investment goes ahead, I am delighted for the workforce and future job prospects.”

Mr Berry said: “This is extremely good news for Darwen and the future of the town’s largest employer.”