New board appointed to lead on £20m of funding for Darwen

Published Tuesday 7 May 2024 at 16:20

A new board has been appointed to help lead on plans for how £20m of Government funding can be best spent in Darwen.

And, at their first meeting, Tracey Alcock (pictured) – General Manager at Herbert Parkinson’s Ltd, one of Darwen’s biggest employers – was officially elected as Chair.

The new board will help identify priorities for the new £20m of funding secured through the Government’s Long-Term Plan for Towns scheme.

Darwen is just one of 55 towns nationally to benefit from the new 10-year programme, part of the Government’s Levelling Up plans.

The strong cohort is made up of dedicated community and business leaders as well as representatives from the Police, health, education and housing – drawing in skills from a wide range of sectors with strong links to Darwen.

A full list of members can be found below.

Speaking after the first meeting on Tuesday, Tracey said:

I feel incredibly proud and honoured to have been appointed as the new Chair of the Darwen Long-Term Plan Board.

Herbert Parkinson’s has been part of the John Lewis Partnership for over 70 years, with much of that time being based in the town.

Throughout those years we have had generations of Darreners come through our doors, many from the same families and this provides us with strong links to the community we will serve.

Anyone who works with me knows that I put people at the heart of everything I do and I’m very much looking forward to doing that in this new role with the Board.

We will be listening to the priorities that residents tell us are important to them and we will look at how we can best spend the £20m of new Government funding to help improve the town over the next decade.

Making a real difference is what matters most to us all.

The Government has set out key priorities for how the funding should be spent, including on:

  • High streets, heritage, and regeneration
  • Transport and connectivity
  • Safety and security

To help inform the board’s proposals – which must be submitted to Government this summer – residents will be invited to have their say.

This will include a chance to offer feedback online and in-person at a range of events being led by Deco Publique, the organisation behind the incredibly successful National Festival of Making.

There’ll also be an online portal for people and community groups to submit their project proposals to be carefully reviewed by the board.

At the meeting, hosted at Junction4 Skate Park, Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, the accountable body for the scheme, was voted as the Vice Chair of the Board.

He added:

As with the Darwen Town Deal, we are ready and willing to work hard to make the most of every penny of Government funding we receive for Darwen.

The very fact that Darwen was chosen as one of 55 towns to benefit shows how confident the Government is that we will deliver, and we will.

We’re already off to a great start too with the foundations we have built with the Town Deal with that work really starting to pick up momentum, kick-starting the transformation of the town.

This funding will help build on the £125m of new investment that Town Deal has helped unlock and, importantly, it will help us focus on the priorities that residents tell us are important to them, including improving our parks and open spaces and Darwen town centre.

As Tracey says, listening to our residents is incredibly important and we’ll be undertaking detailed consultation to ensure we get our plans right – right for the town, right for our residents and right for our businesses.

More details about the public consultation and projects portal will be available at: – be sure to follow the Darwen Town Centre Facebook and Instagram for all the latest updates.

The board members include:

Tracey Alcock Chair – Managing Director at Herbert Parkinson, a John Lewis Partner and major local employer

Councillor Phil Riley Vice Chair – Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council and Deputy Chair of the Darwen Town Deal

Sir Jake Berry MP – MP for Rossendale and Darwen

Wayne Wild – Chair of the Darwen Town Deal Board and Blackburn with Darwen Youth Zone

Dr Mohammed Umer – GP Partner at Darwen Healthcare and Clinical Director for all four Primary Care Networks

Glenda Brindle – Chair of Governors at DACA & active community member

Katrina Fielding – Darwen ward councillor & active community member

Steph Armes – Chief Inspector of Lancashire Police

Nicola Clayton – Deputy Principal of Blackburn College – largest provider of Further Education opportunities to residents in Darwen

Warren Chapman – representative of the Friends Groups active in Darwen’s parks

Mick Smith – Group Director of Commercial Services at Together Housing Group – the largest housing provider in Darwen

Hannah Allen – CEO of Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone – largest provider of youth services in Darwen 

Laura Jenkinson – independent retailer representative – owner of Sweet Vintage

Derek Berry – small business representative – owner of Source Dental Laboratory & active in music and cultural developments in Darwen

Julia O’Hara – President of Darwen Rotary Club – major charitable body active in Darwen

You can find out more about investment right across the borough, including the Darwen Town Deal at:

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