Burnley a town very much on the up | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

Burnley was in the news again this week, and what great news it was too.

A report published by the Centre for Cities, as part of its annual health check of the UK's Economy looked into 62 towns and cities across the UK and found that our town centre lost just eight weeks of sales during the pandemic – making it the least affected in the country.

When compared to other areas it was found that places like Wigan, Manchester, Preston and Liverpool each lost more than half a year’s worth of high street sales.

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This is brilliant news for our town centre businesses who have shown remarkable resilience considering the potentially devastating impact of the pandemic.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar.Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar.
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar.

While many other towns and cities in the North-West have suffered more of a proportionate loss than Burnley, the report says this is likely to be because of higher rents and a lack of custom from office workers.

The report goes on to outline that with a recent lifting of restrictions, those places are likely to quickly recover than smaller towns like Burnley.

One of the reasons for Burnley fairing better could be that while government support may have protected smaller towns throughout the pandemic, it may have simply paused long-term decline.

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We take on board the findings of the report but are more optimistic. Whilst we appreciate government support for businesses through the pandemic, we don’t think our performance is solely down to the support or accidental by any means.

In 2018 Burnley adopted the Canalside and Town Centre Masterplan. Setting out a clear vision for what we want out town centre to be in the coming years.

It is great to see that a number of the big-ticket items as part of that plan are now becoming a reality.

This includes the work that will start on Pioneer Place which will only enhance our town centre offer and the expansion of UCLan will increase footfall and further support our town centre businesses.

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Just the other week during a visit to the town centre with friends from a neighbouring authority it was great to hear them comment on how clean and well kept our town centre was and how especially welcoming it is.

The £4m. investment in the Public Realm work was questioned at the time but is proving to be money well spent.

This all goes a long way towards attracting visitors to the town centre.

As a council we are confident and committed to our town centre which is why we made the decision to purchase Charter Walk shopping centre last year.

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Over the coming months we will develop a plan and vision to ensure that it is successful and sustainable long term.

None of this success could happen without the people who work behind the scenes to attract people and business to the town centre.

We are blessed to have excellent support from the Business Improvement District and the Brand manager who work tirelessly to promote and attract new business.

It is because of their efforts that Burnley is on the up.