Lancashire loses out again

The failure of Lancashire’s politicians to act in a co-ordinated and cohesive fashion has cost the county once again, as Rishi Sunak chose to select areas with combined authorities and elected mayors to invest the bigger chunks of cash that he announced in his Budget last month.

Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, and North Yorkshire will benefit from a £7bn investment into transport infrastructure.

There are additional monies available to mayors for skills and training. The Liverpool City Region will also receive a £22m investment just to support tourism on its waterfront.

And although there were some small wins for Lancashire, not least a £20m ‘levelling up’ grant for Burnley, it was slim pickings for the county in comparison to those big city regions that have had the foresight to establish strategic political vehicles that the government trusts to deliver transformational projects.

Lancashire’s continued inability to punch its weight was most recently evidenced by its failed City of Culture bid. Now the chancellor has selected Manchester, Yorkshire, and Merseyside ahead of the red rose county for the latest round of government funding.

Unless or until Lancashire demonstrates the ambition and pragmatism to create a strategic political framework that can negotiate effectively with the Treasury, then we will continue to miss out.

The leadership at County Hall is apparently planning to lobby government to fund several projects that have been long talked about, including Eden.

I wish them well, but fear that the absence of a legitimate strategic, county-wide body to deliver the initiatives will leave Lancashire frustrated once more.

Meanwhile, Andy Burnham is working out how to invest his share of £7bn on Greater Manchester’s transport infrastructure, and that additional skills cash he now has available.

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