Blackburn’s high street crowned best in the country and named Winner of Winners!

Published Tuesday 13 December 2016 at 9:44

Blackburn’s High Street has been crowned best in the country after winning the ‘Best Town Centre’ category and scooping the overall award in the Great British High Street competition.

The competition attracted over 500,000 votes and Blackburn scored well enough to take home the crown for the ‘Great British High Street of the Year Award’ beating 26 other finalists.

Blackburn will now receive the £10,000 grand prize and they’ll gain expert training from Google’s digital taskforce for shops, bars and restaurants and a trip to Twitter UK’s London office to further boost social media skills.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Our high streets are going from strength to strength as this year’s Great British High Street competition shows. Town centres are being revitalised, with vacancy rates falling over the last year, and Blackburn is a great example of how hard work and support for local businesses can turn things around.

The strong Blackburn Business Improvement District is working closely with the council to invest in the town and put on a vibrant calendar of events that has seen visitors flock in their thousands to the town centre – long may it continue.

One of the first industrialised towns in the world, Blackburn has reinvented itself over recent years with the council investing £9 million in its heritage buildings to bring them back to their former glory.

When announcing that Blackburn has been awarded Winner of Winners of the Great British High Street Awards, Brigid Simmons OBE, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

The winner has blazed a trail, setting an example to other towns and cities.

New shared space is creating facilities for the local community and new street scaping reflects the town’s heritage. Crime and anti-social behaviour are being tackled with ground breaking partnerships. Perceptions are being challenged and changed through events, marketing and social media campaigns.”

She added:

The winner is a place that could easily fall victim to its old reputations but instead it is actively reshaping its own destiny.

Both awards recognise the progress that has been made to rejuvenate the town centre by a range of partners including Blackburn Business Improvement District (BID), Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, the Healthy High Street Team and a range of organisations and businesses across the town.

Nicola Clayton, Chair of Blackburn Business Improvement District, said:

This is a milestone moment for Blackburn. An unbelievable achievement for all the partners and something incredible to build on. Well done and thank you to everyone who made this possible.

A team of experts from across the country were given a personalised tour of the town earlier this year as part of the competition sponsored by the Government.

Judges were ‘impressed’ with the tour which included a visit to the renovated railway station, Fleming Square, the multi-million-pound Cathedral Quarter, the new bus station, Blackburn Market, the Mall Shopping Centre and the Cotton Exchange.

Cllr Phil Riley, Executive Member for Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said it is a ‘terrific achievement’, adding:

It really reflects wonderfully well on the town but particularly on the partnership between the council, the Blackburn BID and the businesses in the town centre. Obviously, we are very excited to have won in our own category but it is even more fantastic to have been named the ‘Winner of Winners.’ This is a big achievement and I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved.

Blackburn’s Healthy High Street team which includes representatives from Marks and Spencer, Santander, Boots and Greggs, are pleased with the news.

Through the work with Healthy High Streets as part of Business in the Community initiative, the team positively encouraged the town to enter. One of the things that makes Blackburn different is how unique and passionate the large retailers are and how well we collaborate.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Mayor, Cllr Hussain Akhtar,  also added his praise:

I am absolutely delighted that Blackburn has been awarded these prestigious awards. It really is a fantastic achievement and a great boost for our brilliant borough.

I hope this acts as a catalyst to encourage more investment and more people who haven’t been to Blackburn for a while to come and visit to see what the town has to offer.

Mo Isap, Chair of the Blackburn with Darwen Local Strategic Partnership, who has recently overseen the launch of a new brand for the borough, also welcomed the good news:

I am extremely proud that Blackburn has been recognised as the great place we all know it to be by winning this national award.

This marks a key milestone of our journey, which began in 2014 when we launched the Plan for Prosperity, and I am excited for the future of our town centres.

Background about The Great British High Street Awards

The Great British High Street supports those working to revive, adapt and diversify high streets. Not for profit and government funded, they aim to provide resources for high street regeneration and celebrate innovative work going on in high streets across Britain.

More information can be found here

You can find the offcial Press Release from the Department for Communities and Local Government here

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