Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, has written a message to the borough’s residents.
I wanted to write to you now I’ve had some time to settle into my new role as Leader. It’s been a busy but rewarding first month and I have enjoyed getting out and about around the borough and seeing and working with many faces old and new.
We are a progressive borough with exciting plans to continue the economic progress that has been made in recent years. We are determined to grasp any and all opportunities and showcase our ‘anything is possible’ spirit at all times.
I want to continue to tap into, and build on, everything that makes the borough a great and unique place to live and work; for example by working with our army of volunteers that I was delighted to honour at a recent celebration at King George’s Hall during one of my first official engagements as Leader.
We want to continue to provide opportunities for all, especially the borough’s young people. I want them to see Blackburn with Darwen as a vibrant, exciting and lively place that provides the chances for them to build their lives and careers here.
We are aiming big; if we’re ambitious as a council, we hope you, our residents and others, will want to come along for the ride and together we can continue to build things up together.
Several recent events have exemplified that:
We were delighted to welcome The National Festival of Making back to the borough on the weekend of June 11th and 12th. I was delighted to see large amounts of people coming from far and wide into Blackburn town centre to enjoy this unique free family festival.
We’ve had some amazing feedback from partners on the commitment, passion and energy of everyone involved and of the cooperation and partnership working demonstrated all weekend. I was told – and it was clear – that the sense of pride of Blackburn’s making heritage and future potential could be felt in everything.
Last Saturday (June 18th) also saw Blackburn hosting its first ever official Pride event.
Around 1200 people came together to parade through the town in a sea of colours before continuing festivities in front of the town hall. Around 2000 visitors were in the town centre during the course of the whole day which was a fantastic turnout.
Activities around the Platinum Jubilee also drew in the crowds on a wave of excitement and anticipation. Thousands turned out to Darwen Tower to see the landmark lit up in red, white and blue to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.
These fantastic events show that Blackburn doesn’t need to be named a city to act like one and, alongside everything exciting happening in Darwen, it’s clear we are a diverse community that knows how to mix and engage.
Clearly the last two years of the pandemic have been horrendous for our borough especially and a report I took to our Council’s executive board meeting earlier this month laid out exactly what we’ve been through and how we, as a Council, responded.
As residents you were a crucial part of that and your contributions to fighting Covid and helping the borough – and by extension the country – through one of its toughest periods since World War Two can never be understated.
Off the back of our Covid response it was also brilliant to receive a visit from Professor Chris Whitty who praised the strength of our people, local communities and partnerships.
As far as Covid goes, we remain vigilant but we’re getting back to business as usual and refreshing the Council’s corporate plan and identifying priorities for the years ahead.
National circumstances are of course going to present us with more challenges – with the cost of living crisis especially at the forefront of everyone’s minds – but we will continue to work to support vulnerable residents while keeping the borough on its upward trajectory.
I am certainly optimistic about the future and hope you are too. I firmly believe we can achieve more collectively than we can ever achieve alone and I’m confident together we can keep on achieving big things.