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Back off, Big Brother!

HYNDBURN Chamber of Trade has thrown its weight behind our campaign to save the borough from the clutches of Big Brother Blackburn - and you can add your name to our petition here.

HYNDBURN Chamber of Trade has thrown its weight behind our campaign to save the borough from the clutches of Big Brother Blackburn - and you can add your name to our petition here.

Our protest petition, which has already attracted around 300 signatures, can now also be signed in numerous town centre shops. You can also add your support by e-mailing us, following the directions shown below.

But you must hurry ... for next Friday is the last date to make your voice heard. That's when our MP Greg Pope will collect the petition and take it down to London, where he will present it to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Mr Prescott will rule the following Tuesday on whether the Blackburn takeover of Hyndburn will go forward as a viable option for local government reorganisation.

Chamber of Trade president Phil Bond said: "Our members have been discussing this for some months and they strongly favour the status quo. To this end we strongly support the Observer's campaign and encourage people and businesses to sign up to it by filling in the forms and displaying the car and window stickers.

"We believe that Hyndburn has a lot to fear from a Blackburn takeover, as this is where all the finance would go and where the decisions would be taken. The 'Darwen effect' would undoubtedly be repeated here.

"While there may still be much to do in terms of regeneration in Hyndburn, we believe we are on the right track. We fear that in the event of a takeover there would be infinite delays as funding was centralised."

Our striking car stickers (pictured) bearing the slogan, Back off Big Brother, Say No to the Blackburn Takeover, are now available at a number of newsagents as well as our offices in Blackburn Road, Accrington.

They are Masters, of 99 Thwaites Road, Oswaldtwistle; Wilson and Ferguson, of 324a Union Road, Oswaldtwistle; Knuzden News, of 358 Windsor Road; Steer, of 4 Church Street, Great Harwood; Cragg, of 19 High Street, Rishton; Watsons, of 249 Whalley Road, Accrington; Entwistle, of 12 Whalley Road, Accrington; A Green, of 58 Nuttall Street, Accrington; Broadway News, Accrington; Hindle, of 45 Dill Hall Lane, Church; Windle, of 398 Manchester Road, Baxenden; Poole, of Rising Bridge Post Office; the Globe Centre, Scaitcliffe Street, Accrington; Y and M News, of Pendle Street, Accrington; and Hussain, of 200 Blackburn Road, Accrington.

The bombshell proposal to allow Blackburn with Darwen to expand its boundaries to include Hyndburn was announced by the Boundary Committee last month, sparking outrage among all political parties in the borough. Although billed as a merger, it would be a takeover in all but name. It is one of two suggested options, the other being the inclusion of Hyndburn in a single unitary authority along the lines of the current Lancashire County Council.

But they would only come into effect if the public voted in favour of a North West Regional Assembly in an autumn referendum. We are also urging our readers to vote NO in that election.

TO SHOW your support for our campaign, copy the wording of the petition below into an e-mail, add your name and address, put 'Big Brother Petition' in the subject line and send it to ...


Dear Mr Prescott,
I strongly object to the Boundary Committee's proposal to extend the boundaries of Blackburn with Darwen to incorporate Hyndburn. This is a takeover in all but name and I demand that it be withdrawn.




Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist