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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Lancashire Consolidates

The current announcement of shared agreement between diverse local authorities within Lancashire outside of the two city regions of Manchester and Liverpool will now lead to an elected Mayor for Lancashire and consolidated economic strategy for the county - from the Pennines to the Irish Sea. Success of both these city regions in attracting investment and government grants places a spotlight on the disadvantage of seperately managed local authorities all competing for central government attention, particularly in the pressing demand for improved public transport infrastructure and connectivity east west.

Just the example of the Fylde itself with four public bodies engaged in seperately planning strategic initiatives all aimed at bettering the interests of their own constituencies - points out inherent problems in changing the direction of travel (so to speak) across local government boundaries. New bodies have been created on the Fylde coast to give over-arching guidance and importantly the input of private sector companies - as an important step towards coordination of sustainable new development. Patently the well meaning role of local Councils with embedded political time-servers is no longer up to the task of charting meaningful futures for community interests.

The incessant lobbying of house building and retail developers with their deep financial purse strings is already having a negative impact on the Fylde's hinterland throwing up estates here there and everywhere farming land or vacant plots become available - without a thought for the social and infrastructural needs of adjoining communities.

On to this morass of private expediency and moribund public bodies - the imposition of critical oversight through engaged coordinating all-Lancashire authority empowered with legal teeth and backed with experienced specialist teams is likely to produce desired results.

Lancashire was (and to some degree still is) the beating heart of England's industrial powerhouse. Sharing with Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland, Derbyshire and adjoining geography the critical human drive of creativity and innovation that saw products, machinery and equipment exported to the far corners of the globe. Today's world has seen dimunition in the vital role of manufacturing industry, in favour of the slick manipulation of numbers by obscure and usually uncaring hedge fund operators and their affiliated parasites.

A Preston built tram in service in Poland - in the 1940s.

A Lancashire built bus for shipment to Argentina in the immediate postwar era. Chassis from Leyland - bodywork from Blackpool.

The financial sector retains its important role - ensuring that gravitas of banking and investment is upheld. Where once local bank managers judged the efficacy of approving an individual loan or mortgage - and seeing the wider ripples of community benefit in so doing; today a keyboard and anonymous electronic network determine the future of companies, families and communities. And all without human interface or minimal interaction - hence the ever increasing loss of bank 'branches' in favour of 'online banking' as arbitrary and instant decisions are communicated in the blink of an eye.

The corporate world has lost its soul to computer algorithms, and those that impel their activation - even now to the point of influencing election ballot box decisions. Whether we are in a brave new world, or the one foreseen by the pen of George Orwell and his classic '1984' is no longer in debate. We have slipped across the subtle line of knowing but not caring ; where the drip drip drip of 'correctness' has overwhelmed freedom of speech and inherent human rights.

In the meantime - the County Palatine of Lancashire endeavours to regain a semblance of power and influence in the land. It may not amount to much in the end; given the forces at work to control a nation's interest: from anonymous tax haven manipulation (and not so anonymous) to the machinations of China and Moscow, along with the missteps in Washington DC - and legions of bureaucrats in Brussels and Strasbourg attending to the strengthening of the EU Empire's boundaries - so badly breached by the British vote.

But at least its a modest positive step for this part of the world.

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