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MP steps up M65 name campaign
DARWEN MP Janet Anderson was today stepping up her campaign to have Blackburn Services at junction four of the M65 renamed.
She and local councillor David Smith were meeting Andrew Long, managing director of Lincoln-based Swayfields Limited, the parent company of MSA Services, which now owns the site. And she was confident that the firm would agree to renaming the service station as 'Darwen' or 'Blackburn with Darwen'.
The meeting late this afternoon follows extensive correspondence between the MP and the Highways Agency and the previous operators of the site, 305 Management Services. That company had agreed in principle to change the name following local opposition and concern from emergency services. The Highways Agency raised no objection to the renaming and had provided them with an estimate of the cost of changing the signs.
The agency's north divisional director, Arthur Ashburner, said that the naming of motorway service areas was a matter for the owner and that despite the strength of feeling locally that it should be called 'Darwen', it would only have intervened if road safety was at risk, which was not the case here.
Swayfields decided against renaming the service station when it took over. Mrs Anderson says she understood that operators at the Blackburn fire and rescue headquarters found the current name confusing because the services were clearly in Darwen and not Blackburn. She said that in view of this - and the strong local feeling as shown by a 500-signature petition raised by staff at the station - Darwen should clearly be part of the name.
Blackburn with Darwen Council supported local people who got fed up of being branded as Blackburn when Darwen was a quite separate, independent and proud town.
Already, Bestway Cash and Carry had dropped plans to call themselves Blackburn Bestway and Mrs Anderson said there were a number of occasions where service station names had been changed such as Rothersthorpe and Scratchwood on the M1 which were now Northampton and London Gateway.
Mrs Anderson said: "I am very pleased that the company have agreed to meet us so that we can put the case for changing the name. I am confident that when we have set out the reasons for doing so they will agree to it.
"The services are clearly situated in Darwen and not Blackburn and the cost of the name change would be minimal - two to three signs on site and a handful on the motorway itself.
"While originally we had hoped to have the services called 'Darwen', I am prepared to accept 'Blackburn with Darwen' as an alterative."