I hope everyone in Hyndburn has had an enjoyable Christmas and new year, it was fantastic to see thousands of people attending the light switch-ons throughout the borough, coming together to celebrate recently. Our community Christmas tree in Accrington Market Hall, that hosted decorations thousands of children lovingly created in their schools, has also been a highlight of the festive period this year for me.


We are starting 2023 with some fantastic news and eagerly awaiting even bigger news. It was confirmed that Hyndburn have been successful in their proposal for almost £3million from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Our bid focusses on themes of ‘community and place’, plus ‘supporting local businesses’ and includes projects such as greening of Accrington Town Centre, culture and heritage initiatives and a curated events programme.


Before the end of January we are expecting news about our Levelling Up Bid, totalling over £20million. This money would transform Accrington’s Town Square with the Market Hall as a food and drink destination and regeneration of the other historic buildings too. I am very hopeful we will secure this much-needed money and looking forward to seeing the plans take shape over the coming years. This has all been possible through working collaboratively with the council, leaders, MP and the local community.


Hyndburn has a rich heritage, and this money will help us build on this past for a prosperous future. One of wonderful examples of this is Haworth Art Gallery, which attracts visitors from all over the world. The team at the gallery have recently been celebrating receiving full accreditation from Arts Council England, which is the UK Industry Standard for museums and galleries. They have lots of upcoming free events and activities in the winter and spring months.


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in the Leisure Transformation Project Consultation about Wilson’s Playing Fields. The proposals detail a vision for Wilson’s that will enhance the facilities to support the existing groups that use this space, whilst also offering a new facility for people to enjoy. The proposals put forward include indoor leisure space, a café and enhancement of outdoor space with woodlands and green fields. Some interesting results came from the consultation, including requests for the addition of sauna/steam facilities. This is just one example of something that was not in the original plans but will now be part of considerations for the next stage of proposals.


Finally, I would like to remind everyone of our offer to dispose of real Christmas trees for free. This is part of our ongoing green initiative, and the trees will be turned into compost or wood chippings. All you have to do is leave your real Christmas tree, with the decorations etc removed, next to your bin on your first recycling collection, starting from Monday 9th January. It will be removed alongside your recycling waste.