Vital we continue to protect ourselves and others | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

As we see a return to some form of normality following what has been a very difficult time, it is important to recognise that we are not out of the woods yet.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

The virus has not gone away and with winter fast approaching, it is vital we continue to do all we can to protect ourselves and others.

I would like to pay tribute to the voluntary, community and faith sector for their efforts throughout, especially those partners who have worked with us to support the most vulnerable through Burnley Together.

The easing of restrictions has presented me with an opportunity to get out and about to meet residents. During my surgeries in Burnley and Padiham it was great to speak to members of the public and more importantly listen. One of the things that really stood out for me was the positive comments particularly about our town centre.

Burnley businesses have led from the front throughout the pandemic, it was therefore a real pleasure to attend the first face to face Burnley Bondholders event at the opening of the historic Finsley Gate Wharf.

It was a great chance to see the restoration work that has been carried out to bring this wonderful asset back to life. There is something for the whole family including a community learning hub, café and bar, function room and guest house. If you haven’t been, you really must pay a visit if only for the view of the 'straight mile'.

One of the key priorities of this administration will be to drive the economic recovery post-pandemic.

Following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, it is reassuring to hear that footfall in Burnley town centre is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

We want to go further by providing a diverse offer and have worked in partnership with 'Independent Street' and Burnley BID to bring the Artisan Market to Burnley.

The first market was a huge success and will return on the first Saturday of every month in the run up to Christmas. This will help to increase footfall into the town centre, promote local businesses and fits in with the exciting plans we have for a vibrant town centre.

We are all aware the impact of the pandemic and how it has affected us all in different ways including our mental health. We are very fortunate then that we are only ever five minutes away from the beautiful countryside and our parks and greenspaces are something we should be proud of.

Through our work with Pennine Prospects we supported the development of the South Pennines Park which is an alternative National Park covering Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester - including parts of Burnley.

This will attract visitors from further afield, raise awareness of the beauty on our doorstep and attract investment to the borough.

This week also saw the launch of Beat the Street.

A fantastic activity led by Burnley Leisure through Burnley Together and a project I was very keen to support from the onset. A great way of enjoying the outdoors, having fun and spending time with the family. Those with school children should have had the packs through school. If not look at the bottom of your child's school bag!

In the coming weeks I will be conducting ward walks across the borough, along with the chief executive. If you have any issues, please raise them with your local councillors and ask them to highlight them.

Finally, if you see us do come and say hello.