The trendsetter behind the rebranding of Manchester has been called on to revamp the image of east Lancashire.
Housing market renewal pathfinder Elevate East Lancashire has asked Tony Wilson, a key player behind the Manchester makeover in the early 1990s, to work up “big ideas”. Elevate wants to transform the image of mill towns such as Blackburn, Burnley and Accrington and to stimulate their economies.
Wilson is well known in the North-west for his contributions to its nightclub and music culture.
He set up the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester and founded Factory Records, the label of Mancunian acts such as Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays.
His profile was raised when he became a regular broadcaster on the television programme Granada Reports. It rose further when actor Steve Coogan portrayed him in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People.
Wilson’s firm, Livesey/Wilson Ideas Management, will undertake consultation and development work on what to do to shake up the image of east Lancashire.
Their suggestions could involve sporting and cultural events that will define the area.
Wilson’s co-director and partner Yvette Livesey created the In the City festival, an internationally recognised music event.
Max Steinberg, Elevate chief executive, said the pair had been chosen because of their work with the regeneration of Manchester, their network of contacts in the worlds of culture, business and leisure, and their enthusiasm and faith in east Lancashire.
He said: “They can see the sub-region from the outside, which sometimes provides a clearer picture than those of us inside east Lancashire can provide.”
The pair will produce a report for the pathfinder. Elevate will help to fund the project and has obtained commitments to pay for the remainder of the project from each of its local authority partners and the North West Development Agency.
Elevate has set up a programme to address the shortage of skills in east Lancashire. “Constructing the Future” will work with local industry, colleges and job centres to make sure that firms and employees in the region can benefit from the building boom. The area has a shortage of construction workers, particularly bricklayers and plasterers.