AS Northern Powerhouse Minister my job is to bolster regional economies across the region, pushing for growth to ensure our great towns and cities are able to compete on the global stage.

I am immensely proud of this role, so it is important that when I come home to Rossendale and Darwen, I can see that my local high street is thriving for the benefit of all residents.

High streets have always been a cornerstone of our community.

They have a unique place in the towns and cities right across the country, giving each place its own character, playing an essential role in our local life and in Rossendale and Darwen it is no different.

I am extremely fortunate to have so many wonderful local shops in my constituency.

In Rossendale, visitors come from far and wide to visit the bustling independent shops like Sunday Best and Luvinit along the cobbles of Bank Street, while Darwen is home to a fantastic indoor market at the heart of the town centre, offering a home to local traders, such as Rushtons, who are well-known for their famous range of local Lancashire produce and the family-run Woods Fruit and Vegetables.

While there’s no denying our high street has changed, with more out of town developments and large superstores springing up around our towns and cities, I truly believe there is still demand for small independents, local shopkeepers who provide a personal touch, which larger retailers can’t match.

High Street Saturday, which takes place this weekend, is a new national campaign, encouraging people to shop local and celebrate our great British high streets which make our towns and cities a better place to shop, work and live.

In places such as Rossendale and Darwen I’ve seen first-hand the contribution that high streets and small business owners make, not just to the economy, but to wider society. They bring local people together are passionate champions for our community.

High streets have been the beating heart of our communities for decades.

They are instrumental in bringing people together, providing a meeting place for friends and families. They are home to the corner shops and cafes that we all know and love and have provided employment for local people.

It is one of my top priorities to support our high streets and local businesses and I know the Government shares this ambition, delivering £10 billion of business rates support since 2016, while cutting small retailers’ bills by a third.

We have invested £675 million to support our high streets and help areas develop thriving community hubs.

We have set up a High Street Task Force to provide expertise and hands-on support, empowering local people to ensure our town centres continue to thrive.

Now more than ever, we need to preserve this great institution and as the Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen I will continue to work with the wider community here to ensure that our local shops, businesses, restaurants and cafes have the support that they need and sit at the heart of our communities for years to come.