Blackburn with Darwen is a semi-rural unitary borough located in the east of Lancashire. It has compact urban areas predominantly but not exclusively located around the towns of Blackburn and Darwen. The area is surrounded by countryside and features a number of small rural villages and hamlets. Blackburn with Darwen borders Bury and Bolton in the south, Chorley in the west, Hyndburn and Rossendale in the east and Ribble Valley in the north. The borough is well located with good transport and infrastructure links to the rest of Lancashire, Greater Manchester and beyond.
With over 4,900 businesses, the borough contributes about 9% of the Lancashire business base and is home to the largest number of businesses of the Pennine Lancashire authorities.
A range of sectors operate in the borough, including the large public sector local government and health sector employers, Blackburn College and a number of large private sector businesses, which include:
- Crown Paints
- Herbert Parkinson, part of the John Lewis Partnership
- Graham and Brown wallcoverings
- Euro Garages
Over two thirds of jobs in the borough are found in the main sectors of:
- business administration and support services
- professional, scientific and technical services
Despite a national decline, the borough still retains a higher than average level of employment in the manufacturing sector. Although the majority of employee jobs in the borough are found in the private sector, employment within the public sector is above regional and national averages. The borough has an entrepreneurial culture, with a business start-up rate higher than Lancashire as a whole and a greater proportion of higher turnover business than the Lancashire average.
In 2018 the population was 148,900, making it the largest borough in Lancashire. The majority of the borough’s residents (in the region of 142,000 people) live in the towns of Blackburn and Darwen with the remaining residents living in the rural villages and hamlets (Hoddlesden, Edgworth, Belmont, Chapel Town and Tockholes) that surround the two major urban centres.
The borough as a whole has a relatively young age profile. It has a higher than average proportion of young people (0-19) compared to the national figure and conversely, a smaller proportion of older people (65 and over). As a multicultural borough, the area is home to many people with diverse ethnicities and identities. The profile of the population is an important determinant of the demand for services provided by the Council, such as the need for adults and children’s social care.
The borough of Blackburn with Darwen is divided up into 17 areas, called wards, for election purposes, so that the views of all local communities can be represented at the Council.
The Council has 51 councillors:
Local councillors are elected by the community to decide how the council should carry out its various activities. All councillors meet together as the Council, where they decide the Council’s overall policies and set the budget each year.
The Council operates a ‘strong leader’ model of governance with the Leader appointed by the Council for a four year term of office. The Executive is the part of the Council which is responsible for most day to day, or operational, decisions. The Leader of the Council appoints members to the Executive Board and determines the allocation of portfolios to Executive Members. The Leader also determines the allocation of any seats on the Executive Board to the opposition parties.
The Executive Board has to make decisions which are in line with the Council’s overall policies and budget. If it wishes to make a decision which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must usually be referred to the Council as a whole, except in cases of emergency.
When major decisions are to be discussed or made, these are published in the Executive’s forward plan in so far as they can be anticipated. Meetings are open to the public except in instances where confidential or exempt information (as defined in the Local Government Act 1972) is being discussed.