A COUNCIL leader has urged retailers and businesses to get involved in the Lancashire Telegraph Business Awards “to gain the recognition they deserve for the special role they play”.

Coun Kate Hollern of Blackburn with Darwen Council said businesses played a vital part in making the area “unique and prosperous”.

She said Blackburn’s £8m market, which opened in June, was now 84 per cent full and showed how serious the council was about investing in the retail sector.

“We need to do everything possible to make business thrive and create jobs,” she added.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is sponsoring the Retailer of the Year title in this year’s awards, which have 10 categories celebrating a wide variety of enterprise in East Lancashire business.

They include deal of the year, team, training and development, export, innovation and technology and the prestigious Business of the Year award. Other sponsors include United Utilities, BAE Systems, Cobham plc, Napthens and Hyndburn Enterprise Trust.

The closing date for entries is Monday, September 12 and finalists go forward to the grand awards night at Ewood Park, Blackburn on Friday, November 11.

The awards are hosted by BBC North West Tonight weather presenter Dianne Oxberry, with after-dinner speaker Lancashire consultant physician Kevin Jones.