The Lancashire Labour group has produced 14 pages of a manifesto to gain control of the county we all thought we were leaving not too long ago. Wasn’t the county to be carved up and just us, South Ribble and Chorley, grouped because we had no links with Preston? There would be a “stand alone” functioning economic area! Or was it just bullshit?
Anyway, the Labour Party has pledged to create a “Lancashire Powerhouse” if it takes control of the county council in the forthcoming local elections amid a claim that the area is being left behind by its North West neighbours.
They claim they will “build on Lancashire’s manufacturing heritage to put the region at the forefront of the industries of the future”.
Potholes will have priority! Again!
They have promised to demand a “fair share” of government investment and the Labour group leader Azhar Ali said that the county needed a strong voice to ensure that it is not crowded out within the government’s own “Northern Powerhouse” concept.
“Under my leadership at County Hall, we will make sure we safeguard our manufacturing jobs. We have got world class engineers and their skills could be harnessed into green technologies to make Lancashire the green capital of England”.
“We must make sure we fight for Lancashire so that we can turn it into a powerhouse rather than a workhouse” said County Cllr Ali.
He added that he would aim to secure government backing to get a Lancashire combined authority “up and running within 12 months” as part of a devolution deal for the county – even though that has been a repeatedly-thwarted process dating back almost five years.
Social prescribing would also provide a route to 12 months’ membership of local authority sports facilities for disabled residents and secondary school pupils. That offer would also be extended to all care workers and carers.
The party is intending to target the rural parts of Lancashire that it will need to win over if it is to secure a victory in May. The manifesto acknowledges that “urban solutions” are not always a good fit for the problems faced by countryside residents. County Cllr Ali also turned his attention to life after the pandemic, adding that it was vital that support was provided to the voluntary organisations on which all corners of the county have come to depend during the Covid crisis.
“We’ll have a pot of money that we’ll put aside to help get match funding for those groups, as many of them are on the brink of collapse. Without them and our food banks, we would have been in a very difficult situation during the pandemic, especially in deprived areas.
“Our elderly and others have really been hit hard by social isolation during the pandemic and it’s vital that we support them to get back involved in the community”.
Will West Lancashire really fall for this? The two major Lancashire parties play ping-pong election by election. Nothing improves under either of them. Can’t we just leave?