The announcement of the creation of a ‘Super Power’ on our doorstep should be a massive wake up call to the civic leaders of Lancashire.
Greater Manchester’s devolution deal on Monday with the government gives the city region powers over a whole range of powers including transport, housing, social care and planning – plus an additional £1 billion of spend.
To unlock this incredible deal, Manchester has worked hard for over a decade to act in a mature, cohesive and co-ordinated fashion, delivered a huge number of regeneration projects, accelerated the growth of its airport and built a modern, twenty first century tram system that spans the entire city region. The first elected Greater Manchester Metro Mayor will be created as part of this ‘Devo Manc’ package.
The deal proves beyond doubt that Westminster is now prepared to devolve significant powers and resource to those who have a track record of delivery, and an ability to have grown up relationships and partnership across local government boundaries, and only a bloody fool would fail to see that there is a window of opportunity to win similar powers for other Northern regions.
If Lancashire is to be part of this exciting revolution, then its council leaders need to stop the petty squabbling and parochialism, forget talk of splitting the county into two, and get their act together quickly.
The Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership has done a decent job, and this includes Blackburn and Blackpool. A new Combined Authority for the county should be based on the same boundaries, and we should agree to have an elected leader for that new Combined Authority model too.
If we fail to get our act together and miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to take control of our own economic destiny, then it will be nothing short of a scandal.