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Wayne Hemingway shares business ideas to improve Blackburn’s ‘brand’
11:35am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
BLACKBURN town centre needs more night life, restaurants and student accommodation if it is to compete with other towns.
That’s the view of top design guru Wayne Hemingway MBE, who returned to his roots to speak to a gathering of top business leaders called The Hive.
The Red or Dead founder, who was born in Blackburn, said: “Blackburn is in competition –it’s in competition with Burnley but it’s also in competition with other small towns like Darlington and Margate, which are making the most of their towns.”
Mr Hemingway is working with the council on how to improve Blackburn’s ‘brand’ and get people back into the town centre.
He dismissed Mary Portas’ efforts to revive shopping centres, saying that she was ‘wrong’ and the abundance of chain-stores in the UK mean that shopping is not the attraction it once was.
He said: “Shopping is not going to revive any town centre and we just need to accept that, but what Blackburn needs to do is utilise the space that it has to make way for things like student accommodation, hotels, bars and restaurants – don’t let the best dining experience in Lancashire be in out in the countryside, let it be in the town centres.”
Describing his upbringing at yesterday's meeting at Crown Paint’s Learning Academy, he added: “I grew up in a single parent household in Queen’s Park flats and Blackburn was a great place to grow up.
“The town centre was thriving and filled with creativity – I saw David Bowie on his Aladdin Sane tour in 1973, The Sex Pistols’ fourth gig was in Blackburn – these were important cultural events that took place in Blackburn’s town centre and it’s very far removed from what we see in the town centre today.
“It can change and it has to change, because without a thriving town centre, we are nothing.”
Khalid Saifullah, chairman of Hive and director of Star Tissue UK, said: “Blackburn should definitely aspire to be the most enterprising in the UK but we are taking a different approach in Blackburn.
“Rather than lobbying, we feel that we need to raise aspirations. We need to utilise the creativity of our young people to increase local prosperity and create good relationships between businesses of all kinds.”
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