Blackburn with Darwen is a unitary authority area in Lancashire, North West England. It consists of Blackburn, the small town of Darwen to the south of it, and the surrounding countryside.
It was founded in 1974 as the Lancashire borough of Blackburn, from the County Borough of Blackburn, the Borough of Darwen, parts of Turton Urban District (chiefly the villages of Belmont, Chapeltown and Edgworth) and parts of Blackburn Rural District.
It was renamed in May 1997, in preparation for a split from Lancashire County Council. On 1 April 1998 it became a unitary authority. The authority borders with areas administered as Greater Manchester, and Lancashire.
The percent of Muslim population (19.4% or 26,674 people) is the third highest among all local authorities in the United Kingdom and the highest outside London. 20.4% of the districts population belongs to any South Asian ethnic group, making it the highest percentage in the region, and almost four times higher than national average of South Asians.
- Main article: Blackburn with Darwen local elections
There is a total of 64 seats on the council. As of 2006, the borough is divided up into 23 wards, all with three councillors with the exception of Earcroft, Whitehall, and North Turton and Tockholes, which have 2 members, and East Rural which has one.
The council was shaken in 2004 when six Labour councillors quit the ruling group one month after an election, meaning 6,442 people who voted for a Labour councillor were left with independent representatives and the council temporarily fell into no overall control. The councillors, who eventually re-joined the party, left over an internal row reportedly sparked by the demotion of particular councillors in a post-election reshuffle. Like some other towns and cities with sizeable Asian communities, allegations of vote-rigging and corruption have dogged the council with members of the muslim community reportedly being "strong-armed by mosque leaders and councillors to vote Labour" during elections. The possibility of corruption has been eased by reforms to postal voting which have made electoral fraud "childishly simple" in the UK according to a European watchdog. The number of postal votes registered in Blackburn in 2005 was 20,000, compared to 7,600 in 2001. In April 2005, local councillor Mohammed Hussain was jailed for three years for rigging the 2002 town hall election by stealing at least 230 postal vote ballots in his ward.
The local elections of May 2007 saw a coalition of parties take control of the council from Labour. The small For Darwen party and independents now hold the fine balance of power on the council in a partnership with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Like its predecessor, the ruling administration has also attracted controversy with one of its councillors being suspended following a conviction for benefit fraud and another following allegations of domestic abuse. Tensions over the presence of former England First Party member Michael Johnson within the coalition as part of For Darwen rose to the surface when Johnson was quoted in The Sun newspaper in October 2007 blaming his unemployment on "all the immigrants flooding this country." "These people take our jobs and it will only get worse", he said. Three weeks before local elections in May 2008, a Liberal Democrat candidate for Shear Brow ward caused a stir by defecting to Labour.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Blackburn with Darwen at current basic prices published
(pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics
with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
|| Regional Gross Value Added
|| Services |
|| 737 |
|| 916 |
|| 1,134 |