Oswaldtwistle has been specially chosen for an innovative ‘twinning’ scheme aimed at reinvigorating local economies.
The town is one of only 10 to be selected throughout the UK and has been paired with the small Scottish town of Whitburn in West Lothian.
The scheme follows a search by the Carnegie UK Trust last year to pair towns with similar characteristics and challenges.
Gayle Knight, creative director of the Civic Arts Centre and Theatre, said she is ‘incredibly pleased’.
She said: “We liked the idea of the town twinning programme because we thought it was a good opportunity to get ideas from other areas of the country to see how they are regenerating their towns.
“We’ve spoken to the people from Whitburn already and we’re hoping to visit soon. We think they share a lot of our goals and ambitions so we’re keen to meet them as soon as possible.”
Speaking at a recent area forum meeting, she added: “It’s really positive publicity that we can used for Oswaldtwistle to say it’s a good place to live and a lot going on and a lot of activity and to really talk about the positives of the town nationally.
“We want to get the whole town involved and lots of activities.”
The Carnegie UK Trust said both towns had a history of mining and are ‘keen to bolster their local economies through the creation of local employment, physical development and socio-economic regeneration’.
Over the next 18 months they will develop a twinning action plan, receive economic planning support and have access to a fund to ‘kickstart new commercial, voluntary and social enterprise activity’.
Gina Wilson, development manager at the Carnegie UK Trust, said Twin Towns is aimed at encouraging towns to make a ‘positive impact locally, especially at a time when devolution of power to cities and regions is becoming more prevalent’.
She said: “While we don’t expect the towns’ concerns to be resolved overnight, we hope that the new partnerships will be the start of something positive.”
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson said: “We’d like to thank the team from the Civic Arts Centre for all their hard work in bringing this project to life. Oswaldtwistle has a wonderful community spirit and any project which aims to come up with new and innovative ideas to boost local economies is to be welcomed.”