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UK cycling chief steps down from Pendle Council role
4:00pm Friday 15th March 2013 in News
THE man who brought elite cycling to Pendle as well as being instrumental in major regeneration projects in the borough, has retired.
Brian Cookson OBE, executive director for regeneration for Pendle and also President of British Cycling, stepped down form his council role yesterday.
In his first year in post, 2004 he brought a high speed National Circuit Race Series to Pendle, with the Colne Grand Prix now an annual event.
Since then cycling greats, including Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and local hero Steven Burke, have battled it out through the centre of Colne. He was involved in the building ACE Centre, restoring Shackleton Hall and the Nelson re-opening of the road, the new boulevard, amphitheatre and shuttle sculpture.
Brian started his working life in 1973 after graduating as a landscape architect and came to Pendle in 2004.
He was awarded an OBE in May 2008 for his services to cycling. He said: “It's been an exciting nine years and I'm going to miss it. My job in leading the regeneration has never been less than challenging.
“We’ve had a lot to tackle over the years. Shackleton Hall has been rescued and renovated, providing offices for Housing Pendle and a shopping arcade in the centre of town, with every unit taken. But it’s been tough making these transformations against the backdrop of the worst recession since the 1930s and the job is far from over.”
In 2010, with Mr Cookson’s help, a National Road Race was held in Barley, near Pendle Hill.
People around the world were able to see Pendle’s countryside, thanks to live television coverage on Eurosport.
Brian was also one of the torch bearers in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.
Leader of the council, Joe Cooney, said: “Brian’s brought a lot more to Pendle than he was employed to do and for that we’ll be forever grateful. We’ll continue to have a great cycling programme in Pendle and his expertise will be called upon again in the future.
“We wish particularly to thank him for his contribution to the work in Whitefield, Nelson town centre, the ACE Centre and the old library on Booth Street.”
For Brian, retirement won’t be a case of hanging up his bike and getting his slippers on. As well as continuing his presidency of British Cycling, he’ll be involved on the management committee of the International Cycling Union.
And he plans to ride the North West Regional Championship again, a race he won back in 1971.
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