The prestige in being named Most Enterprising Area in the UK attracted the nation’s television cameras and prominent figures to Burnley last night.
Burnley-born broadcaster and journalist Tony Livesey, now a reporter on the BBC’s “The One Show”, brought the programme’s film crew with him to capture a celebration event at Burnley College.
And his fellow Clarets fan and advocate of Burnley, Alastair Campbell, also mingled with guests.
Tony Blair’s former director of communications spoke to the Express about what the award could mean for the town.
He said: “It’s fantastic. If you think of the way people outside the town perceive Burnley it is largely based on the negative image of the race riots, the BNP or the old-fashioned image of cloth caps and mills.
“However, this award is recognition that Burnley’s changed. It projects a different image, that of attracting investment.
“The fact the Government has recognised the change in Burnley shows it has a new modern image.
“Burnley suffered for a long time from an overhang of its industrial past, but it can now point to its industries of the future coming here and contributing to the local and national economy.”
Mr Campbell also highlighted the role Burnley’s new schools, colleges and university campuses play in boosting the town’s prospects.
He added: “It is not just about image. These are real buildings with real people in them doing real jobs and making real money for the local economy.
“Sometimes it can take a long time to turn the sense of a place around, but once it does it can snowball.
“There are businesses coming here now that five to 10 years ago wouldn’t have given a moment’s thought to come to Burnley.
“And the new educational establishments are part of this. They are giving young people the chance to have their own ideas and their own enterprise.
“Among these is the UCFB College of Football Business which is a world first. All this will give Burnley the chance to build on what’s been achieved and develop that for the future.”
Among the hundreds of business leaders at the event, Mark Crabtree, founder of Oscar-winning Burnley company AMS Neve, expressed his delight to the Express.
Mr Crabtree’s company produces sound-mixing desks used by Hollywood blockbusters and top music acts.
He said: “I think this is a game-changer. People from outside Burnley have an idea of what the town is like without really knowing.
“I hope this award will help break through those pre-conceptions and re-evaluate the place. We really are going places.
“Everywhere you look the momentum is gathering pace. All this good publicity should hopefully change national perceptions of the town.
“The Burnley Bondholders set out with that aim and it is fantastic that we are on the right path to achieving that.”