2020 vision is vital

As we prepare for the New Year, and the beginning of a new decade, it is an opportune moment to reflect on where our county is and where we would like it to be in the next ten years.

I have long argued that Lancashire has been punching below its weight for some considerable time.

We are exceptionally good at hiding our light under a bushel and despite the best efforts of Marketing Lancashire and some progress being made, we must do more.

Like it or not, the political backdrop is a huge influence over how a region performs.

For whatever reason, our local politicians appear unable to reach an accommodation to deliver a structure of governance in the county that would deliver the collective weight of what should be Lancashire’s power.

During the past 12 months there has been talk of shrinking the county’s influence further by splitting the Lancashire into two, or even three, unitary councils.

In 2020 the business community should demand the re-establishment of a county-wide Combined Authority that has business representatives on it.

In 2020 the business community should demand the re-establishment of a county-wide Combined Authority.

Its first job would be to lobby a new government for more devolved powers and resources in areas such as training, skills, education economic development and transport.

A commission should then be established to consider how we best progress a regional tier of governance and whether that should include an elected mayor so that Lancashire can enjoy the sort of strong voice in the corridors of power enjoyed by Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

By the end of the year, Lancashire should have a blueprint, signed off by all the major stakeholders across the county, local authorities, the Local Enterprise Partnership, business leaders, universities and others, that we can present to the government so that Westminster knows we mean business and we have finally got our act together.

The alternative to this is more dithering, more dallying, more parochialism and a further dilution of Lancashire’s relevance at a Northern Powerhouse and national level.

And that’s hardly a New Year resolution that an ambitious place should be signing up to.