BLACKBURN with Darwen Borough has appointed a new £90,000 a year growth director lured from a similar post at giant neighbour Lancashire County Council.

Burnley resident Martin Kelly takes up the post vacated by Ian Richardson in March last year.

His previous job for nine years was director of economic development and planning at Lancashire County Council working across 12 boroughs.

He had also acted as the chief operating officer of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership since 2012.

Cllr Phil Riley, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: "He is a great catch. It's something of a coup for Blackburn with Darwen Council."

Mr Kelly will be responsible for growth strategies, strategic transport and infrastructure development, town centres and planning and property services.

He is on a director salary band of £87,896 to £94,087 a year.

At Lancashire, Mr Kelly secured a £1billion investment programme for the county council including winning its £320 million Growth Deal covering 40 major initiatives.

They included Darwen’s Ellison Fold Way distributor road aimed unlocking new employment and housing opportunities, major rail improvements between Blackburn, Darwen, Bolton and Manchester, Blackburn town centre's Making Rooms and the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone.

Mr Kelly said: “There is a clear desire to make a difference for the residents, communities and businesses here which was central to my decision to join. The welcome I’ve received from colleagues has been brilliant,”

Cllr Riley said: “We are really pleased to welcome Martin. He brings lots of experience and expertise of large scale growth projects and will be a great asset to the continuing revival of the borough.

“The challenge of the cuts continues and it’s important we recruit high calibre people like Martin to help make sure Blackburn with Darwen attracts investment and maximises income opportunities."

Cllr Derek Hardman, regeneration spokesman for the council Conservative group, said: "The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. His main job will be to get investment into the borough and if he does that it will be a good appointment."

Originally from St Helens, Rugby League fan Mr Kelly lives with his young family in Burnley. He previously worked for Manchester City Council, Bolton Council and the former North West Regional Development Agency and Leeds Business School.