The leader of Burnley Borough Council has boldly proclaimed the town is rebranding itself as "an aspirational bustling centre capable of attracting major retail outlets."
Coun. Mark Townsend, the Labour leader of the council was addressing an audience at the AGM of Pennine Community Credit Union, when he said that Burnley was bucking the trend, in a reference to shoppers abandoning smaller town centres for city superstores and out-of-centre shopping malls.
Addressing the 37th AGM of the credit union at Burnley Football Club, he described how people were proud of Burnley’s shopping centre following the recent completion of the improvement works to the St James' Street pedestrianised areas.
“Everyone thought at first that it was too expensive, now there’s pride in our town centre,” he said.
He praised the credit union for moving to new premises on the pedestrianised area. It was evidence, he said, that the community-based savings and loans body was going from strength to strength, mirroring Burnley’s new-found confidence in its shopping centre.
“Burnley used to be the workshop of the world, but it’s been going through some tough times in the last 20 years. But now it has strong aspirations to succeed.”
A further pointer to Burnley’s success was the growth in the student population, with plans for the town’s UCLAN campus to grow by 4,000 students over the next four years.
Another positive venture for the town was the first phase of council supported and partially-funded Vision Park. This is expected to attract high-skilled jobs to the town.
He finished with a plea for the shackles to be removed from how Burnley can move forward with the creation of a new council to replace Lancashire County Council. The proposal was for a new council jointly with Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Rossendale.
He added: "We should not be ruled by decisions taken in Preston. Burnley is a unique town with its own plans, desire and commitments, which would be better served with a closer decision-making body."