A PETITION has been set up in favour of awarding funding to regenerate a town centre.

Atherton Residents Association chairman Stuart Gerrard launched the online petition on Sunday to drum up support for the town to be allocated money from a Greater Manchester project and it has already attracted more than 700 signatures.

The Town Centre Challenge will give places in Greater Manchester the chance of improvements being made such as providing more housing opportunities, venues for events and public sector hubs.

Greater Manchester mayor and former Leigh MP Andy Burnham is asking councils across the region to nominate a town centre to be awarded the funding.

Mr Gerrard said: “I think the strong reaction to the petition shows people are proud of their town and sorry to see the state it is in at the moment.

“The transport connectivity is reasonable and improving which makes our town ideal for this scheme as well as attracting further investment.

“However, the local retail and leisure facilities are not currently representative of the town’s demographic, and since losing Formby Hall, it can no longer facilitate many local events.

“Despite this, the town is undoubtedly in a position to flourish from this exciting scheme.”

Mr Gerrard set an initial target of 1,000 signatures for the petition which will be sent to the mayor office’s and Wigan Council.

But he is hoping to get more than 5,000 so it can be discussed in a council meeting.

He added: “The residents are passionate that their town is selected for nomination.”

The Town Centre Challenge will be a project in which the mayor will work alongside public and private landowners, developers, community groups and other key stakeholders to support councils.

There are eight main towns, around 20 other smaller ones and more than 50 other suburban centres in Greater Manchester.

To sign the petition visit http://bit.ly/2A4lmqP.