A PATRON of a cultural festival showcasing the town’s diversity believes creating a climate which enables ethnic groups to work together will deliver ‘rewarding benefits’.

Cllr Tony Higgins (LAB – Fairfield and Howley), cabinet member for leisure and community, became a patron of Warrington Ethnic Communities Association (WECA) and Warrington Mela earlier this month.

He says it was ‘a huge honour and surprise’ and is something he will ‘always work hard to justify’.

The politician also hailed volunteers behind the festival.

He said: “Warrington Mela is growing in reputation regionally and adds so much colour and fun to our town.

“I’ve been supporting WECA since becoming a borough councillor in 2010 and the Mela for the last eight years and witnessed their positive growth and influence.

“Without such organisations, Warrington would be much a poorer town and I’m immensely proud of what they are achieving, their vision for a better town should be applauded.”

However, Cllr Higgins is not underestimating the level of work required to continue strengthening community cohesion in the borough.

He added: “We have so much more to do, we face many challenges in the years to come but we are in a good place in Warrington.

“We can see the evidence with the huge turnout for all of our community events and the thousands who attended this year’s Mela.

“Creating a climate that enables all our ethnic groups to work together is the best way forward and that can only reap positive and rewarding benefits for the future.”

This year’s Mela, where Cllr Higgins was honoured, took place at Queen’s Gardens at Palmyra Square on July 7.

The event, organised by WECA and supported by the council, saw double the number of visitors from last year’s spectacle after 2,000 people attended.