A MAJOR shortfall in Arts Council funding has been highlighted.

New figures obtained from the House of Commons Library by Leigh MP Andy Burnham show that, over the first 20 years of the National Lottery, Leigh has received £265,167 - more than £6 million less than the average total per constituency of £6,444,923.

He is calling on the Arts Council to rectify the problem by supporting plans for the addition of a new performance space to the Turnpike Centre.

Mr Burnham said: "There can be no doubt - Leigh has been seriously short-changed from the Arts Lottery fund over its first 20 years.

"The arts world cannot continue to think it is acceptable to take the pounds of Leigh Lottery players and spend them on their elitist projects miles from here. It is not and has got to change. Arts should be for everyone, everywhere.

"I am calling on them to get behind plans to add a theatre or performance space to the Turnpike Centre. It would be a focal point for Leigh's thriving creative scene and a place where our town could come together to celebrate the talent of our young people."

Mr Burnham raised the issue at the launch event for Trust in Leigh.

An Arts Council spokesman said: “The impact of National Lottery investment in the north west over the last two decades is significant and we want to improve on that impact as long as our Lottery income levels stay healthy.

“We have made a number of awards in the last few years to the Turnpike through our Lottery scheme – the most recent being an award of £19,000 for Turnpike at 40.

“In looking at the balance of our investment, spend per head figures do not take into account that arts organisations often serve populations far beyond their own postcode and own local authority area.”