A BID has been launched for Blackburn to take advantage of a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to be awarded city status.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has put forward a case to be designated a city as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

The council believes it has built a compelling case for consideration, with the final decision to be made by Her Majesty, on ministerial advice.

The application has taken on board feedback from previous bid applications, with the council believing it is ‘in a powerful position to be successful’.

The council believes the town’s unique strengths and spirit, especially how its diverse communities work together “showing real grit and determination” to see Blackburn progress, places it in a powerful position to be successful.

Council leader Mohammed Khan, who was himself last year awarded a CBE by the Queen for his services to the borough, said: “We are incredibly proud that we are able to submit a bid on behalf of the town and be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“This bid for City Status is an opportunity for us to showcase everything that we already know is great about Blackburn.

“The potential for increased tourism, media, economic impact, skills, jobs and to highlight the array of cultural assets and projects the town delivers is incredibly exciting.”

The decision to take part comes following the news that neighbouring Darwen has been successful in its bid for £25m in ‘town deal’ funding.

The council says that the town’s economy is already bouncing back strongly from the impact of the pandemic and it is believed the honorary ‘City’ title will provide a further stimulus to Blackburn’s recovery.

Cllr Quesir Mahmood, joint deputy council leader, who will be leading the application, added: “A successful bid is something that would enormously benefit the whole town and demonstrate our very clear ambition. We more than meet the criteria, we can put in a really strong entry. I often get stopped and asked why we aren’t already a city, we are the perfect example of a small city. We are thinking big for Blackburn.

“It’s our people, the strong voluntary and business communities along with the place itself which creates the unique blend we know and love. That’s why homegrown entrepreneurial start-ups to international businesses such as Euro Garages choose to invest and be located here.”

Rt Rev Julian Henderson who, as Bishop of Blackburn, is the Diocesan Bishop for the whole of The Church of England in Lancashire, said today: “Securing City Status would be good news for residents of the town of course and for the whole County of Lancashire.

“It is already the home to the County’s Anglican Cathedral which brings many benefits to the area. Blackburn with Darwen has also built a reputation for excellent interfaith work over many years.

“Being bestowed this honour by Her Majesty The Queen would also reflect the rich heritage of the town in relation to worship and community cohesion; as well as its rich cultural and industrial heritage.”

Blackburn Business Improvement district manager Catherine Price also welcomed the news and said: “We are absolutely delighted that the council have agreed to enter this prestigious competition on behalf of the town.

“It demonstrates the commitment as ambitious place leaders and the forward-thinking we collectively have for the place.

“Our businesses and local communities have pulled together and responded magnificently to the traumatic events of the last years and that spirit will be reflected in the bid.”

Blackburn Mayor Cllr Derek Hardman encouraged everyone to get behind the town’s bid.

He said: “I do think this is a genuine opportunity for us to actually build on the incredible work that has already been ongoing in the town.”