Enough is enough! Let's have a devo

I had a letter this week asking me to support a devolution proposal from a North West county.

Pleased though I am that Cheshire has managed to get its act together to present a plan to government that will lead to more power, responsibility and money flowing into Chester, Warrington and their surrounding area, I can’t help feeling frustrated that Lancashire is still fiddling while Rome burns.

Downtown in Business has been banging the devolution drum in this part of the world for almost a decade now.

That it hasn’t happened is entirely due to a small group of parochial politicians who are more interested in keeping the power that they have than developing an agenda for change and improvement.

The staggering facts relating to Lancashire local government are these. The county council, with a budget of £844m has 84 councillors. The 12 district councils, with a combined budget of £160m, have 564 councillors. There are then a further 93 councillors to govern the two unitary authorities in Blackburn and Blackpool.

If you were starting to put a blueprint together for governing the county, you would not start with this.

I can’t help feeling frustrated that Lancashire is still fiddling while Rome burns.

It would be indefensible in normal times for council leaders to defend this dog’s dinner which is clearly not fit-for-purpose in the 21st century. It is beyond ludicrous that some are doing so when a devolution offer is very much available as a workable alternative from the new government.

Lancashire has already lost millions of pounds in potential investment through its inertia in recent years. It has also lost influence and credibility.

There is no more time for prevarication. Business leaders must demand of our political masters that they put the county’s interests before their own interests. If the local decision-makers won’t progress a change agenda, then business needs to be making that demand at a national level.

Enough is enough. Let’s have a model of governance that reflects Lancashire’s economic weight and status. That means a combined authority AND an elected mayor.

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