IT has been 14 years since Jake Berry was elected to the Rossendale and Darwen seat, and the MP says he is particularly pleased with the progress made in one town.

As a general election looms, it is clear the 45-year-old is proud of his record in the valley and he sees Rawtenstall as one of his more significant achievements during that time.

Local elections are due in May and a general election is expected this year.

In Rossendale, Labour Coun Andy MacNae will be among those fighting Mr Berry to become the area’s next MP.

Back in 2009, Rawtenstall was used as a filming location for a BBC zombie apocalypse drama.

There may have been a few special effects thrown in but the fact that Rawtenstall - which featured in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2023 - was chosen as a fitting location for a zombie apocalypse back then is not lost on the MP.

Mr Berry said: “I was first selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate in 2007, that’s 17 years or so, and I’m proud to represent Rossendale.

"People here have been some of my closest friends. I’ve never stood anywhere else. I was re-selected last year for the next general election. While it would be quite unusual not to reselected it’s never taken for granted.

“I’m particularly proud about Rawtenstall town centre changes. In 2009, it was used for the BBC TV ‘Survival’ drama. That was based on a zombie-apocalypse and came after 13 years of total neglect by a Labour government. Rawtenstall was the best location they could find when they wanted a post apocalyptic world.”

He added: “Now, the area is regularly featured in The Times and other media as one of the best places. Rossendale is a destination. Everybody should be proud. It has not happened by accident. It’s the result of exerted effort by me and Rossendale Council to turn things around. I think that TV programme and the subsequent election was a bit of a wake-up call to end that decade of neglect.”

Rawtenstall has just been allocated a wedge of Levelling Up funding from the Government. The town’s market is one of three flagship projects in Rossendale – along with Bacup and Haslingden – undergoing extensive renovation.

Joe Harrison, chief executive of the National Market Traders’ Federation, has described investing in the redevelopment of these as a dynamic way of revitalising footfall into town centres. He believes that the investment opens the door to young traders to begin their entrepreneurial careers.


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Mr Berry added: “I’m proud that we’ve got £20million in Levelling-Up funds for town centres. Today, Rawtenstall Market is fantastic. There’s a lot still to do, including Bacup, to complete the job. People asked what will Levelling-Up do for Bacup? What will £20million do? But I was there the other day and people were so pleased to see work happening at the former Barclay’s Bank site.

“I think there is a big issue about trust and politicians. People feel sceptical. A good doze of scepticism is part of the British character. But we are fighting to overcome that. People can see the really big projects have started.

“I’d say the changes have been good. They are linked to my time as the Northern Powerhouse minister. I introduced town boards. Some people say the arrangements are too tight but I believe it’s a new relationship between the council and MP. It’s a team effort. I’m not saying everyone on the council loves me. But we have to lay political differences aside and trust is one of the results.”