ALL schools in Blackburn with Darwen, state and private, have been invited to submit designs to brighten up the main outside wall of the revamped Witton Park athletics arena.

The scheme is the brainchild of senior councillors Jim Smith and Damian Talbot who denied claims the proposed fitness, changing and seating area was ‘an abomination’.

They will also invite the borough’s schoolchildren to come up with a name for the arena.

The new buildings received planning permission last week despite Tory spokesman Alan Cottam complaining they were in the wrong place and condemning the design as ‘a big black block’ and ‘an abomination’.

The revamped arena is on course to open next year after a £2million upgrade. The proposals include:

  • A new build athletic facility with indoor 60m sprint track, changing facilities, first aid/physio room, fitness suite, and dance studio
  • The first total resurfacing of the outdoor running track since 1984
  • Improved drainage for the field events area including relocating the pole vault n Covered spectator seating.

Blackburn with Darwen’s planning committee approved the scheme with chairman Jim Smith announcing the competition for borough schoolchildren.

He said: “We are asking every single school in the borough, local authority and private, to enter the competition and asking pupils to create a design to be embossed on the black outer wall.

“This will brighten it up and give residents, and especially young people, ownership. There will be a plaque with the name of the school and pupils who created the design.

“This is for everybody and we want the young people who will use it, and perhaps become the next Olympians from the borough, to feel the arena belongs to them.

“There will be a prize of £1,000 for the winning schools arts department and something for the individual pupils who create the design to further their artistic ambitions.

“This building is not an abomination. That is nonsense.”