BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has been praised following a Local Government Association assessment.

A peer review was carried out from December 3-6 providing an external perspective on how well the Council is performing and on its future plans.

The LGA undertake these challenges at all councils every five or six years, with the BwD assessment lead by Barnsley Council chief executive, Diana Terris and South Tyneside Council leader, Cllr Iain Malcolm.

And following the review, 11 recommendations have been made for the council to consider.

They include engaging staff and residents in developing a vision for the future of the borough, as well as strengthening the marking and promotion of the borough to make it more attractive to potential visitors and investors.

Among the other recommendations were considering ways of empowering ward members, including through allocation of

funding for local initiatives, and identifying gaps in community volunteer arrangements, developing a plan to address these.

A summary of the review states: “Blackburn with Darwen Council benefits from widely respected political and managerial


"Partners have a real confidence in the Council, which enables them to undertake new initiatives and new ways of working in the borough.

"This confidence is in part inspired by Blackburn with Darwen’s track record in stepping up to its responsibilities in partnerships across Lancashire and by its ability to deliver.

"Political and managerial leaders are experienced and, along with the wider membership of the council and staff, are passionate and committed to the area.

"This gives the council a clear understanding of the place and its communities.

"Blackburn with Darwen is grappling with some significant challenges. Internally, to transform the organisation to enable new ways of working, service improvement, delivering sustainable savings and to strengthen its financial reserves.

“Externally it is working with partners and the community to tackle what remain some very poor health indicators, low incomes and other social challenges.

“The Council has helped to bring about some significant improvements in infrastructure and the public realm and in attracting inward investments. It now needs to shift emphasis further towards the people agenda, to complement what it has achieved for the place, to ensure that more local people can benefit from the economic activity generated and enjoy better health and social outcomes.”