Rochdale regeneration leader dies

Barrie Bernstein, founding chairman of Rochdale Development Agency in the early 1990s, has died after a long battle with cancer.

Bernstein’s Middleton-based kitchen manufacturing business employed 1,300 people at its height.

He died on 24 August, aged 76. His diagnosis came only months before he lost his wife of almost 50 years, Frances, also to cancer. They were married in 1961 and had three sons: Simon, Jeremy and Robin.

Rochdale Council granted him freedom of the borough in November 2006. The award was given in recognition of his outstanding service to the area and, in particular, reflected the leading role he played in the founding of the Rochdale Training & Enterprise Council and the creation of Rochdale Development Agency. Joining the RDA as its founding chairman in 1993, he remained in the role for more than 13 years.

Rochdale Development Agency said it has secured more than £100m of public and private investment since its inception, helping to bring 3,000 jobs to the area.

John Hudson, former chief executive of the RDA, said: “Barrie Bernstein was instrumental in establishing collaborative working between the public and private sector, a process that has brought many benefits to Rochdale and its residents.

“During his tenure at Rochdale Development Agency the idea of public-private partnership working became the norm for regeneration activities in the borough, with major projects such as Kingsway Business Park and the regeneration of Middleton town centre taking shape. This was only possible because of the rare combination of business skills and personal qualities that he possessed.

“Barrie’s courage, honesty and integrity were respected by people of all sectors of the community and this was reflected in him being made a Freeman of the Borough shortly after he retired from Rochdale Development Agency. Barrie never looked for personal recognition, but I know he was very proud of being made a Freeman of Rochdale.”

Bernstein was also a non-executive director of the Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; fundraiser for the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; chairman of Trust of Academies in Manchester for the Bright Futures Educational Trust and chairman of the board of governors at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls.

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