Pendle Council regeneration chief retires

Retiring Coun. Brian Cookson is pictured with colleagues at Nelson Town Hall at his leaving celebrations.
Retiring Coun. Brian Cookson is pictured with colleagues at Nelson Town Hall at his leaving celebrations.

Pendle Council has bid farewell to a senior member of staff as Brian Cookson retired from his position.

Mr Cookson joined Pendle Council as Executive Director for Regeneration from Sefton Metropolitan Borough in 2004.

During his time in Pendle, he has overseen swathes of change across the borough, with housing regeneration projects in Nelson, Colne and Brierfield and the development of the ACE Centre.

Nelson town centre has also been transformed in Mr Cookson’s spell, Shackleton Hall in Colne has been restored to its former glory and the old library on Booth Street, Nelson, scheduled for launch in May, has undergone similar treatment.

Brierfield Mills’ regeneration is underway too to make it a landmark project for the North West.

As well as his four decades of local government experience, Mr Cookson’s Presidency of British Cycling has brought stellar cyclists to Pendle.

Mr Cookson helped create the Colne Grand Prix with competitors down the year including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and gold medal holding “Colne Cyclone” Steven Burke while the British National Championship Road Race was staged in Pendle in 2010.

On retiring, Mr Cookson said: “It’s a bit weird to be honest. I’ve been working for 40 years, pretty much all of it in the public sector. It’s been a great time.

“When I look back at the list of things as priorities (in Pendle), I would like to think we have delivered all of them. What has been more difficult is the changing economic conditions.

“Pendle Council has supported me with my work in cycling and I hope to have returned the favour a little.”

While retirement usually marks the riding off into the sunset, Mr Cookson could be cycling off into a sunrise of opportunities as he continues his work as President of British Cycling and hopes to “become more involved” with the International Cycling Union based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Before that, he is taking off with his bike for two weeks in the Mallorcan sunshine and competing in a Pyrenees coast to coast race.

Mr Cookson added: “I’m going to relax a bit more, chill out for a bit and get a few things done at home. I’ve got lots and lots of things to keep me busy.”

Meanwhile, regeneration work in the borough will now be led by Pendle Council’s Economic and Housing Regeneration Manager, Julie Whittaker, and by Head of Central Services, Dean Langton.

Pendle Council’s Leader, Coun. Joe Cooney, and Coun. Paul White will continue to take the lead as portfolio holders for regeneration and economic growth.