DARWEN MP Jake Berry has withdrawn comments he made at a public meeting claiming the council is to spend £1million on a new war memorial in Blackburn.

Mr Berry made the comments at Darwen Town Council’s meeting earlier this month. His claims were labelled ‘crass’ and ‘reprehensible’ by town council mayor Coun Trevor Maxfield in an open letter sent last week.

And in his response, Mr Berry said he had withdrawn his comments, but maintained the council was looking to obtain cash for a project in Corporation Park.

In his open letter, Coun Maxfield, who is also Armed Forces champion for the borough council, said: “You made a wild claim that the borough was spending £1million on a war memorial in Blackburn but nothing in Darwen.

“I have subsequently checked with Harry Catherall, Blackburn with Darwen’s chief executive, who has informed me that what you said was untrue.

“It is both crass and reprehensible that you should come to the town council meeting and make such a misleading and untrue statement clearly aimed at playing to the public gallery.”

In reply, Mr Berry said: “I withdrew my mistaken comments about Corporation Park, which is why I note they do not appear in the minutes of the meeting. I do, however, stand by my comments that Darwen gets an unfair deal from Blackburn Council.

“£400 million is being spent on Blackburn’s town centre, Blackburn’s library, Blackburn’s roads, Blackburn’s leisure centre, Blackburn's parks and Blackburn’s market. I now understand Blackburn Council is proposing to seek a further £1.1million to invest in Corporation Park.

“I am sure that Whitehall Park, Bold Venture Park or Sunnyhurst Wood would be glad to receive even a fraction of this investment for Darwen. It's time Darwen got a better deal from Blackburn Council.”

A borough spokesman confirmed a Heritage Lottery Fund bid was being prepared for a project in Corporation Park. The bid is expected in November with a decision due in March and, if successful, the council would be required to offer 10 per cent of match funding.

The project, for restoration work on the park pavilion, has been led by the park supporters group who have raised £8,000 themselves.