Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend shares his 2018 highlights
As we enter the festive period and look forward to a new year, I'd like to share some of my highlights from the past year before looking forward to 2019.
At the start of the year, we re-opened Padiham Town Hall. This is a highlight because of what it symbolises.
The community’s response to the flood really brought out a war time spirit, so it is particularly apt that the building is the ‘HQ’ for the popular Padiham on Parade event.
For me, the re-opening of the hall was the start of a new chapter and a bright future for Padiham. We now have new homes, in place of an eye sore, on the Perseverance Mill site. We have attracted lottery funding to improve the town centre.
Next year construction begins on the town’s flood defences, which will protect hundreds of homes and livelihoods and will also unlock the development of many more new homes.
Another highlight of 2018 was the restoration of Thompson Park. It looked wonderful in full bloom during the amazing summer, but the gardens and park offer something to enjoy all year round.
In 2019, the borough will be benefiting from extra funding from Sports England. That should lead to more residents using our beautiful parks and leisure facilities to stay healthy and well.
My final highlight of the year was the opening of Primark, not because I am dedicated follower of fashion!
Rather, the opening was evidence of how Burnley is bucking the trend. Attracting a major high street retailer, at a time when many are predicting the demise of the Great British high street, is proof that Burnley is on the up.
What else does 2019 have in store? My focus remains on creating new jobs, making our neighbourhoods better places to live, and improving our town centres.
So in 2019, we will be working on our plans for a major new leisure led development in Burnley town centre: “Pioneer Place” at Curzon Street.
We will also be working on attracting more undergraduates to the borough through our student accommodation plans.
And, in order to improve neighbourhoods, we will continue to up management standards in the private rented housing sector and also work with developers to build better quality homes on brownfield sites.
There is a lot of uncertainty in our national politics and for the future of the British economy. But Burnley is in good shape to meet those challenges. Yes, austerity in local government is ongoing, but we will continue to innovate in order to'¯deliver quality'¯front-line'¯services'¯as'¯efficiently as possible.
The hard work and understanding of the borough’s residents over recent years is paying off, the focus on the long term needs of the borough over short term fixes is paying dividends and there are exciting times ahead. We can all look forward together with confidence.