The chief executive of leading business lobbying organisation and networking club Downtown in Business has called on the county’s private sector leaders to support the establishment of a Combined Authority for Lancashire.
Speaking at the annual Lancashire Business Awards gala dinner at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Downtown boss Frank McKenna told the 300 plus guests that parochial politics was still getting in the way of the opportunity and potential that the government’s devolution agenda offers.
“Whilst Manchester is firmly on the devolution train, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield are sorting out their tickets to get on board. If we are not careful, the train is going to leave the station without Lancashire – and when it returns there will only be places left in standard class.
“This is the time for Lancashire’s political leaders, at parliamentary and local government level, to put their differences aside, and get a deal done that will deliver for businesses in this county.
“Devolution offers additional powers and resource around the issues that can help drive and grow our economy, such as training and skills and business support.
“If we dilly dally and prevaricate over this decision, the first wave of devolution deals will have been done; and by the next tranche of agreements there will be fewer powers on offer, and less resource.
“Lancashire should be at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. At the moment we are sitting on the sidelines, without a voice and without the influence we as a county our size should have.”
Mr McKenna added that a crucial meeting between all the county’s council leaders was taking place on 1st September.
“I would ask all of you to write to your local political leaders and MPs and demand them to get their act together on this vital issue.”
Among the awards presented at the glittering Lancashire Business Awards dinner were the Personality of the Year prize, which went to internationally renowned business coach Michael Finnigan of i2i, and the Business of the Year, which was won by Recycling Lives.
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