Pride of Place: How Business in the Community is bringing together leaders in Blackpool
Jo Valentine, Business in the Community’s (BITC) lead on the Blackpool Pride of Place project, on how networks are allowing those born and bred in the area to give something back to the seaside town.
BITC has supported the creation of a Pride of Place partnership in Blackpool. This brings together local leaders – whether from the public, voluntary or private sector – to agree and prioritise what needs to be done to regenerate Blackpool. Business in the Community members, such as Beaverbrooks, Danbro and Victrex, serve on this partnership alongside local businesses and charities.
Blackpool’s inner wards contain some of the greatest deprivation in England and unified action on a national scale is crucial to solving these issues. To that end, the Pride of Place partnership has created a network of Born and Bred ambassadors, originally from or with a special interest in the area.
Blackpool, like many regions outside London, but in this case exacerbated by the lack of a large university, suffers greatly from a brain drain of its brightest and best. This network allows some these very same people to give something back to their home town and be a vital part of its future.
The first group of prospective ambassadors were invited to a dinner in 2018 by former Lord Mayor of the City of London, Sir Andrew Parmley, himself a Blackpool lad. They went on to take a variety of roles depending on their background, availability and interests. Christine Hodgson, chairman of CapGemini, is chair of the Blackpool Pride of Place partnership; Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, is leading on a tech hub and incubator to promote local growth in the sector; and Lord McNally of Blackpool is a member of the House of Lords Committee for Regenerating Seaside Towns, which recently recommended a town deal for Blackpool.
The key objective is for them to use their influence and expertise to advocate for Blackpool on a national scale to business, government and in the media. Their authority is their authenticity. As people from the area who already understand the issues Blackpool faces, they are best placed to speak for Blackpool independently, without being seen as a mouthpiece for local interests in the same way as the council or local politicians.
The Born and Bred network gives Blackpool a special kind of highly motivated and influential support at its side on the long road to regeneration. The next dinner will take place at Guild Hall on 18th June 2019 to add another cohort to the network, but more ambassadors are welcome at any time.