LEIGH has been confirmed as the borough's choice for a Greater Manchester project to provide funding for regeneration.

A decision to select Leigh as the council's nomination for the Town Centre Challenge was rubber-stamped at Wigan Town Hall in a cabinet meeting at 3pm today, Thursday.

The scheme was launched by Greater Manchester mayor and former Leigh MP Andy Burnham in which he has invited the region's local authorities to nominate towns which will benefit from more housing opportunities, venues for events and public sector hubs as part of the challenge with the application deadline set for Thursday, December 21.

Council leader Lord Peter Smith said: "If we want to receive backing we need to make the strongest bid and I think Leigh is the best option.

"We are not forgetting other areas but Atherton and Tyldesley are both benefitting from other projects that have been introduced recently such as the guided busway."

Deputy leader and portfolio holder for economic development and regeneration Cllr David Molyneux added: "Along with the other investments in the town I think the money from this scheme could realise the specialist qualities that Leigh could offer.

"As a council, we have got to be realistic in what we can achieve and Leigh offers us the best choice out of our towns at the moment."

Speaking at the meeting, director of economy and environment at the council Karl Battersby confirmed letters had been submitted by MP Chris Green and chairman of Atherton Resident Association chairman Stuart Gerrard to state Atherton's case for nomination in the challenge.

He also confirmed a petition of 'the best part of 1,500 signatures' was presented by Mr Gerrard in favour of supporting Atherton's bid.

But town hall bosses concluded Leigh offers the strongest opportunity to be awarded funds from the scheme following up on the £4 million Believe in Leigh Fund, the £1 million Bradshawgate area works and also offers the best area for developing housing in the town.

Leigh MP Jo Platt has also greeted the decision with delight.

She said: “I am thrilled that Wigan council have now approved Leigh’s nomination.

"It is an acknowledgment of the need to invest in the social and physical infrastructure on the east side of the borough.

"I now looking forward to working with the council, private companies and the wider Greater Manchester Combined Authority to set out objects and remove barriers for growth.”

"While the decision marks a significant milestone in identifying Leigh as a focus for economic development, it in itself, does not bring with it an immediate financial package. "Work can now begin with businesses and local people to ensure that full advantage is taken from the opportunities that present themselves as a result of this recognition."