It was meant to be a state-of-the-art community centre, but eight years after this steel structure was built it remains an unfinished, rat-ridden eyesore.

The Muslim community turned its back on the project because the £300,000 which paid for the framework came from a lottery winner.

And now councillors, residents and shopkeepers are urging the nearby Masjid Al Momineen Mosque, which was behind the scheme, to finalise the building's future as they said it had become a massive blight on the Bastwell community.

The Lancashire Council of Mosques said the mosque was unable to get donations from the community for the £400,000 to complete the scheme as it had become outcast' for accepting the proceeds of gambling, which is prohibited by the Koran.

And the man charged with regenerating the borough, Coun Andy Kay, warned that that the "pain in the backside" centre was likely to stay in its current state until someone bought the building for another purpose.

An Islamic study centre had been originally given planning permission for the site on land between Ash Street and Plane Street.

But approval was later obtained for a community centre once the involvement of a Blackburn man, who became known as Mr Millions after winning £18million in 1994.

He paid for the steel work and foundations but the project ground to a halt after those sections were completed in late 1998.

A member of the mosque's committee, who asked not to be named, said they were in the process of applying for European funding and hoped work could restart early next year.

He said: "There have been a lot of delays but we are trying to get the money.

"We have never been out to anyone from the Muslim community to ask for money.

"It would be a community centre for everyone not just Muslims."

But Coun Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said that when money was needed for projects mosques across the country would be approached.

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He said: "But because they accepted lottery money they have been classed as outcasts so that now no mosque will work with them.

"They are unable to get the money from Muslim communities which is why it is at a standstill. They are not going to be able to get any money. That is their dilemma."

Coun Mulla said that he was responsible for co-ordinating collections at the Cumberland Street mosque he attends and that he would not have allowed money to be collected for this scheme.

He said: "As Muslims we are not allowed to accept money from gambling.

"Clean money is what people have worked for, not got from gambling, betting, or the lottery.

"The management committee at that time decided to take the money but the consequences were that everybody in the UK got to find out about it.

"Because they accepted the money it looked very, very bad throughout the UK and also in Muslim areas of the world."

Coun Andy Kay, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said there was little they could do.

He said: "While it is a pain in the backside we have virtually no control over it.

"It looks like it will stay like that until someone can buy it and do something else with it."

Taj Ahmed, whose takeaway store overlooks the site, said: "We have been having problems with rats. Because it used to be housing there are drains underneath it.

"It doesn't make a good impression for customers coming here.

"At the end of the day something needs doing about it."

A resident, who asked not to be named, said: "Nobody wants to complain about it because it is to do with the mosque.

"I think it would nice if it were made into a small park."

Coun Parwaiz Akhtar, ward representative for Bastwell, said: "I have been chasing this up because it is covered with rubbish and I have had complaints about rats.

"I think there are two or three groups in the mosque that are not co-operating with each other."

By David Bartlett