THE people of Hyndburn will have the final say on whether or not the name of the borough should be changed.
Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe will propose at the next full council meeting that a referendum should be held on the controversial proposal to change it to Accrington and District.
A special meeting of the borough’s area councils was held last Thursday to gather feedback from each committee chairman on public reaction to the suggestion.
Each district would be given its own coats of arms under the proposals and residents have been promised that it will not cost council tax payers a penny.
Feelings were mixed on the night, with one angry resident shouting: "You are swimming against the tide Peter. Can’t you see that there is nobody in favour of it?"
However, there was a disappointing turnout with only 15 members of the general public, without any political interest, showing up.
Eight of these were from Great Harwood, where opposition has been fiercest, four from Accrington, two from Oswaldtwistle and one from Clayton-le-Moors.
Councillor Britcliffe invited each area council chairman to report to the meeting.
Councillor Lynn Wilson, from Great Harwood, confirmed that a vote had not been taken in her area but added: "It was generally felt that Great Harwood would like to join with the Ribble Valley and not Hyndburn."
A show of hands will be taken at the next area council meeting on Thursday.
Votes in favour of the name change came from Baxenden, Huncoat, Clayton-le-Moors and Oswaldtwistle.
Residents in Church and Milnshaw agreed that a referendum was needed, while those in Rishton and Central and Spring Hill were not in favour of the plan.
Councillor Britcliffe said that it would be the public’s decision and not the politicians’.
He added: "Even after 30 years, and despite much effort by many councillors, the name of Hyndburn has not stuck.
"I am not bothered if we change the name or not. It will not make an hap’orth of difference to me. We will continue to provide a good service, no matter what name we have."
Alan Whalley, from Great Harwood Community Action Group, said: "Hyndburn is a name that is well accepted. At the moment we have a relatively biased sample. Not many people attend these meetings. I don’t want to see the name changed."
Resident Joan Mercer from Clayton-le-Moors said: "I feel we can promote the townships without changing the name of the borough. It’s part of civic pride that we keep our own identity."
Ian Wilkinson, Great Harwood resident and chairman of the Friends of Memorial Park, said that he was always suspicious when politicians wanted to change something when "there really is no reason".
Councillor Britcliffe added: "It’s a huge decision, and while I am supportive of it, it’s not my decision.
"We are not a dictatorial council, we want to embrace everyone’s views."
An extraordinary full council meeting will be held on 4 December at Scaitcliffe House from 6pm to discuss the issue further