#BrilliantBurnley – a Lancashire Hotspot!

More than 80 Lancashire business representatives gathered in Burnley to discuss the opportunities for growth and development in the borough.

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The Question Time-style panel event was hosted by Lancashire Business View in association with Burnley Council and PM+M Chartered Accountants at Prairie Sports Village.

Pam Smith, who was appointed chief executive of Burnley Council in 2015, took part in a Q and A before the main panel discussion.

She said: “One of the biggest highlights of my first 12 months in post is the Manchester rail link which links us in to the Northern Powerhouse and enables us to make more connections, but also bring people here and show them what Burnley has to offer.

“We are one of the top five North West boom towns, we were named the UK’s most enterprising area, and we need to get the word out more.

“The fluidity of communication and long term relationships between ourselves and businesses in the town is critical.”

Guest panellists at the event included Rupert Gatty, CEO, CoolKit; Kate Ingram, head of regeneration and planning policy, Burnley Council; Helen Binns, director, PM+M; Andrew Henderson, managing director, Lanway and Colin Birchall, executive chairman, Birchall Foodservice.

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Kate Ingram, who is responsible for major regeneration projects in the town such as Burnley Bridge and Vision Park, said: “The key message is that Burnley is well connected, well located and there is easy access. We will always pull together as a community to make sure doing business in Burnley is a smooth process.

“Our aim is to improve the economy, create more jobs and get more people to come and live in Burnley. We’re achieving all of our goals and have had year on year employment growth since 2009, way above regional and national levels. We’re now also in a period of positive population growth.”

Helen Binns, who was instrumental in the relocation of PM+M’s Burnley office to Finsley Gate, said: “With the amount of investment here, there’s a really good feeling and we wanted to be part of that. There are big opportunities to do business in Burnley and be a big part of the community.

“It’s a civic town with a strong business community. The Bondholders network is really important for people to tell their stories and get involved. We come across a lot of businesses with real tenacity and determination to get things done for themselves and for the town.”

Rupert Gatty, who relocated his firm in 2015 from the Shuttleworth Mead Business Park to a larger site at Farrington Place, said: “Burnley’s location, with its proximity to areas of outstanding natural beauty, neighbouring towns and the great road and rail networks the town has are all real positives.

“We get a lot of support as a Burnley-based business and well informed.”

Andrew Henderson, who has been doing business in Burnley for more than 20 years, said: “We want to tell as many people as possible to come to Burnley; it is a great place to be. Burnley is a forerunner in the respect that its private and public sectors work together so well.

“One thing I hear a lot about is skills shortages, but certainly for us, we don’t feel that so much. There’s an enormous number of training providers in the area.”

Colin Birchall, whose growing business relocated to a new £3m site at Burnley Bridge in 2015, said: “There’s a lot of collaborative work and that is the way forward. We need to keep the focus on Burnley, continue to change the perception of the town and get people to work with us.

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“We are Burnley and we should be shouting about the town. We are in a wonderful location and are fortunate to have so many good things going for us.”

Richard Slater, publisher of Lancashire Business View, said: “Events like this help the business and public sector communities to learn from each other and share ideas. “Creating a better understanding of what’s happening on the ground is good for business.”

  • The next Lancashire Hotspots event will take place in West Lancashire in June.