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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Barrow Borough, South Lakeland, Lancaster City Show The Way

John Woodman

The formal proposal put forward by these adjoining Local Authorities with common issues and similar objectives for their extended waterfront locations bordering on Morecambe Bay, point to not dissimilar circumstances governing three seperated Authorities along the Fylde Coastline - Wyre, Blackpool Unitary Authority and Fylde. This duplication of the Fylde coast's administration and its three locally elected Councils points to the inefficiencies of placing the strategic interests of a defined geographic area in the hands of parochial disconnected politicians both seperated by Party affiliiation and long held social distinctions.

Overarching concerns in terns of economic and technological priorities bedevil higher education and skills training for successive generations of school and college graduates seeking meaningful careers close to their homes - without need to face extended commuting or expensive relocation elsewhere. Equally important issues around imperatives to combat climate change and global warming - presently given token acknowledgement (at best) and bedevilled by continuing land erosion from ever voracious developers stand minimal chance of fulfillment - apart from token tree planting.

Rising sea levels and encroachment on low lying coastal plains is left to national agencies already burdened with increasing call on constrained budgets. The Fylde's coastline being exposed as it is along its entire length to high tides and further strengthening odds of severe flooding has to be dealt with in a unified programme that benefits all communities, and calls on a centralised agency covering the entire region. Witness the Morecambe Bay proposal of combined local governments that extends from Barrow to Lancaster and coincidentally bordering the coastline of Wyre Borough which itself is no stranger to ever frequent flooding around St Michael.

A further important asset accruing from joined up Authority planning is connectivity for public transport infrastructure minimising road use by private cars. The Fylde is blighted at least twice every day by the continuing streams of commuters heading out of and later returning to coastal residential catchments. This blight is further accentuated by incremental house building on a remorseless basis by a cadre of familiar firms forever endeavouring to secure outline planning permission for greenfield sites and land wherever it exists. Whilst a handful of schemes show empathy with existing communities and bring original value in design and structure, most are blatant computerised financial algorithims aimed at extorting maximum return. The resulting developments becoming dormitories devoid of social interaction and neighbourhood content. Green space, such as it is, being given over to off street parking denying nature any role.

Improvement to off road transport links and further extension for rail usage is bedevilled by splintered public authority disconnects and often political ill-will. The much asserted need for bringing rail service back to Fleetwood and the north Fylde coastline continues to stall amid such short sighted and bad tempered judgements - usually asserted by both elected and appointed flag wavers for this or that faction. There are signs that this badly managed governmental set up and its metropolitan instincts may be subject to reformation at several levels. The north south divide of England's green and now not so pleasant land is being ever more exposed to critical scrutiny - abetted by a national movement in Scotland seeking to rid itself of English overlordship (and seemingly winning that drawn out battle).

Relocating Parliament's Upper House - the now blighted 'House of Lords' - with its posturing medieval courtesies and jealously guarded protocols from the banks of the Thames to the riverside of the Ouse in York - adds its own prominent indicator of looming change to the national body politic. Whether this in fact comes about or is indeed welcomed by the good citizens of York remains to be seen. The great cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle are staking out their own distinctive character alongside emergent regional bodies espousing enhanced powers for England's aggrieved northern communities. Dimunition of central government's long held jurisdiction over English interests has emerged as a lightning rod for widening discontent north of the 'Home Counties'. Year on year London based national bodies such as the BBC to English Heritage and the English Football Association (from multiple examples) effortlessly talk down to an increasingly sizeable questioning audience once they took for granted - but no longer.

The two great pillars of Westminster politics are straining to understand and respond to sea changes triggered both by the country's decision to remove itself from overlordship of institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg; the ongoing pandemic originating from somewhere in Asia, and self inflicted missteps particularly on the part of the opaque management structure of the Labour Party. A third party struggles to maintain a national credibility, whilst self governing 'statelets' in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh pursue their own agenda usually at odds with Westminster. All in all a disquieting era we are living through.


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