PLANS to boost Blackburn with Darwen’s economic prosperity and build stronger, more integrated communities have been launched.

Our Community, Our Future is the name of the Social Integration Strategy produced by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, its partners and the Local Integration Partnership.

The strategy sets out how money awarded to the borough through the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Integrated Communities programme will be put to use.

For the first year of the Government programme, the council has been awarded £383,133 for the first year compared with £1.2m for Bradford, £1.2m for Waltham, £970,000 for Peterborough and £853,000 for Walsall.

Government bosses say they are working with the council to determine whether there is additional funding they could draw down to support the implementation of their delivery plan in 2018/19.

Council chief executive Harry Catherall said he was confident the borough would get about £3m in funding over the course of the programme, in line with the other pilot areas.

Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan said: “We want everyone, no matter what community they are from, to feel part and parcel of this borough and part and parcel of this great country.

“Perception is one of the biggest issues. For people who came here 50 years ago or 100 years ago, Blackburn is one community.

“There are a number of myths about the community which can cause rifts and it’s only when people sit down together that you can break those myths.”

Local Integration Partnership vice-chairman Chris Seddon added: “We have to make sure everyone feels part of the town. There are people who feel alienated and uncomfortable."

Harry Catherall, chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Blackburn with Darwen was chosen as one of five national integration partnership areas because the government recognised the borough’s fantastic track record of delivery on community cohesion and integration, as well as our willingness to try new approaches.

“We are delighted to have been working with MHCLG since March to pull together a comprehensive strategy with some innovative thinking, particularly around transport as a barrier to integration and working with the borough’s employers to ensure the workplace offers people a chance to connect with others from backgrounds different to their own.

“Our priorities capture so succinctly what this agenda is about: breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for all sections of the community, to achieve our vision of a borough where everyone is treated fairly and everyone feels that they belong here.”

The four priorities in the strategy are:

To increase economic prosperity for all the borough’s communities as an essential prerequisite for social integration.

To strengthen relationships between the borough’s diverse communities.

To build connections and strengthen relationships between young people who live in the borough’s diverse communities.

To connect the borough’s disadvantaged communities to shared spaces – linking people and neighbourhoods to zones of employment, physical assets, community shared spaces and social action.