THE first event of the new ‘100 Voices’ forum to promote community cohesion in Blackburn with Darwen will be held on Thursday.

Hosted by council leader Kate Hollern, it is in opportunity for borough residents to tell her face to face what issues concern them.

It will be held at the Windsor Suite, King George’s Hall at 7.30pm and will involve 100 local people, some from the original exercise in 2006 and some new and younger ones.

Coun Hollern and members of her executive team will be available for an hour-long question and answer session.

It is an opportunity for residents to give their views or voice their concerns on issues which effect them, their families and their communities and influence what happens in Blackburn with Darwen across a range of issues.

The 100 places are already booked up but other residents can follow the discussions on Twitter by following @blackburndarwen, #bwd100voices or on the Facebook page ‘Ask Kate’.

Coun Hollern said: “I’m eager to get to the heart of issues in Blackburn with Darwen which is what this session will do. We go there with a blank piece of paper – no hidden agenda.

“The audience will decide what we discuss. This is the very essence of our Your Call campaign. If you take the initiative, we will work with you. Similarly, if people come forward to raise issues of concern to them, we will do our best to address them.

“This isn’t the only chance people will get but the first of many opportunities.”

Former Tory council leader Colin Rigby has branded the scheme ’a nice political gesture’ but doubted if it will achieve anything.

He said the original forum achieved little.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw and Cathedral dialogue development officer Anjum Anwar welcomed the return of ‘100 Voices’.

At the original forum, supported by the Lancashire Telegraph, issues included communities living parallel lives, faith schools, wearing the veil, the role of sport in bringing people together, the erosion of family values, workplace discrimination and drug culture.

Coun Hollern told last week’s borough executive board meeting: “There is no set agenda. This is about what local people want to talk about.”