Leaders Gather in #AmazingAccrington to Discuss Business, Brexit and ‘Bringing it Back to Lancashire’

Over 50 business leaders in Hyndburn gathered at the #AmazingAccrington meeting on Friday 25 January to discuss Business, Brexit and ‘Bringing it Back to Lancashire’.

Accrington Town Hall Council Chamber became a hive of activity for the afternoon at the most well-attended meeting to date.

Murray Dawson, Managing Director and Chairman of the #AmazingAccrington initiative, opened up the event to share with attendees the excitement of upcoming events in Accrington on the new Town Square and inside the Town Hall – including a brand-new Beer Festival set to take place for the first time.

“As business leaders it’s important for us to bring footfall into the town, helping the economy and local traders where possible. We’re incredibly thankful to have so much support from businesses in and around Accrington with every event hosted in the town. We are here to celebrate businesses in the borough and also showcase the events going on in the town. This gives businesses the opportunity to get involved with the local community.

This year will see the introduction of a Beer Festival to coincide with the annual Food and Drink Festival. With approximately 14,000 visitors attending the Food Festival every year it’s the biggest event in the town and we’re hoping the Beer Festival will be a massive success alongside it.

We appreciate all business leaders who take the time out of their days to come to the #AmazingAccrington meetings; to help us better the town today to keep future generations here tomorrow.”

Lyndsey Sims, CEO of Hyndburn Leisure Trust, took to the panel to share an overview of the trust and Accrington Town Hall:

“We want to encourage people to get up and active. As a not-for-profit Charity, we’re proud to say that we invest all our profits back into Hyndburn.  We also contribute around £2million towards the East Lancashire economy every year.  We employ over 150 people from the local area and aim to source goods and services from local companies. Developing the local leisure facilities is a key priority for us – they are well loved, well used, and we will continue to upgrade them to benefit the local community. It’s brilliant to be here and to see people coming together from a wide range of organisations.  The Trust values the opportunity to raise awareness of our facilities and services with partners and to celebrate the great things Hyndburn has to offer.”

Graham Jones, Member of Parliament for Hyndburn, addressed the room:

“It’s fabulous to be here in Accrington Town Hall, alongside our usual informative event today we have reflected on some bigger issues. As businesses it’s on your shoulders to shout about our community, to support it and help make it great. Meetings like this are so important for us to come together and support each other. As a community, and a country, we are in a difficult situation due to the obvious… Brexit. It’s a dark cloud at the minute hanging over us and yes, there are concerns. I am here to support the people, businesses and the community. There has been some friendly and healthy debate here today, which is always welcomed! I hope that people have left with a better understanding of my own position on the current climate and also with reassurance that I have the community interests as my priority.”

The meeting was attended by over 50 key business people in the area including Sharon Benson, Studio Ltd., Steven Chippendale, Property shop; Miranda Barker, CEO East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce; and Richard Slater, Publisher of Lancashire Business View.

Richard commented:

“Lancashire Business View have launched a major campaign to bring back £1bn to the county. The campaign urges businesses to buy as local as they can. Initiatives like #AmazingAccrington are a prime mover in this goal. It’s a fantastic opportunity and initiative, today we have had a great time and it’s made connecting with other businesses easy. It’s brilliant to hear these events are growing, with more and more businesses attending.”

Steve Riley, Executive Director (Environment) closed the event with an update on the work Hyndburn Borough Council has delivered over the past year.

The new Town Square is now complete and celebrates everything the town is about – its history, its people, its successes – giving residents and visitors a place to enjoy. The Public Realm project has been shortlisted for the Design Awards at the International Making Cities Liveable conference in the USA, the Institute of Civil Engineers Community Award in Manchester and the ‘Accrington Interpretive Artwork’ is also being considered for submission into the Museums and Heritage Awards. Recognition from being shortlisted and the links with #AmazingAccrington are putting the town on the map; not just nationally, but in the world.

The work on the town centre is not complete. The next phase is the grant funding for improvements to the shop frontages and over the past 6 months there has been a concretive effort to encourage owners to take up the grant offer. To date 23 shops have registered an interest in the grants with 14 appointed architects and 1 already stated on site; things are moving forward, it’s starting to happen.

The Council have invested in the clean-up of the town centre through the employment of dedicated staff and new equipment, as well as planning improvements into the outdoor market stalls, Broadway, and so on. We have also updated a number of CCTV cameras to HD quality, to improve security.

Doom and gloom is now far from everybody’s lips. Negative talk doesn’t achieve anything; if we are not being positive and promoting our town, then who will? I hope my short update shows that Accrington will, and is, flourishing.”

For more information about #AmazingAccrington visit www.amazingaccrington.co.uk