Burnley will hit the ground running | Mark Townsend

The anniversary of the first lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is approaching and it’s an opportune time to reflect on it’s devastating impact.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 3:45 pm

The loss of life is over 125,000 nationally and recently reached 1,000 across Burnley and the wider East Lancashire.

These are not just statistics, every loss of life is an individual who were family members, loved ones and friends who will be forever missed.

It is right that we spend a few moments on the day of reflection on March 23rd to remember those who have sadly passed away, those who are still suffering in hospital or through long Covid, and others suffering through other consequences such as deteriorating mental health.

Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend

While it is vital we reflect on what is behind us it is also important that we look forward and we can do this with optimism.

The fantastic world wide effort to produce and roll out vaccines has shown the power we have when we all work together with a common goal.

This has given us the real prospect of unlocking society and returning to a degree of normality over the coming weeks and months.

We all look forward to better days especially the hard pressed businesses who have done magnificently against all odds.

In preparation for society re-opening the council have been planning for the future to ensure Burnley hits the ground running.

In the short term the council will be bringing in a ‘free after 3’ car parking scheme as non-essential retail reopens to support our town centre and we will continue with reduced prices for bulky waste household collection as waste recycling sites continue to provide only a restricted service.

For the longer term community and economic recovery plans have been agreed and I was delighted to recently chair the first meeting of the economic recovery board that is made up of key business, education and community stakeholders.

The focus of the board being the saving of existing jobs, the creating of new jobs and the training of the workforce of the future. The passion and focus of all those involved, who are volunteering their time to deliver the best they possibly can for Burnley and Padiham, as we exit the worst of the pandemic is fantastic.

As we look forward to our pubs and clubs re-opening I have watched with interest the ‘Time's Up’ campaign recently started by town centre bar owners to bring change to Burnley’s night time economy.

To many the night time economy has become a failing early morning economy with a reputation for getting a drink at anytime with daylight kick outs rather than the quality of a varied night time offer.

It is important that the night economy re-opens as soon as possible and all parties work together to achieve a successful re-opening.

Alongside this, a review of the local Licensing Policy is required to ensure all that can be done is being done to provide a supportive framework for this very important sector of our local economy.

Lockdown has been difficult for us all but a positive impact for many, including myself, has been to now appreciate the importance of our award-winning parks, green spaces and rural walks to our mental health and wellbeing.

I for one have taken the opportunity to enjoy greenspaces I didn’t regularly use before such as the Padiham Greenway and Towneley Park both of which are extremely popular and bring the countryside into the heart of our urban areas.