Lets have a Greater Lancashire

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In two weeks, all good folk of the county will be celebrating Lancashire Day, November 27th.

I’ll be proudly wearing a red rose stuck into my flat cap and guzzling hot pot, black pudding and Lancashire beer with the best of them, but this year I can’t help but recall that song “Look Out, There’s a Monster Coming.”

That monster, my friends, is Greater Manchester, which is all set to become even “greater” than ever.

Chancellor George Osborne recently offered the 10 councils in the Greater Manchester city region devolved powers and a huge wodge of cash, worth £1 billion, if they agreed to have an elected mayor, Boris-style. They agreed, of course, even though the public had rejected the idea in a referendum just a couple of years ago.

Greater Manchester was created as an administrative area in 1974, along with Merseyside and a host of others best forgotten. It’s an artificial entity, unlike Lancashire County Palatine which has been around for centuries.

For me, towns such as Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham and Wigan – not to mention “Southport, Merseyside” – are Lancashire and ever shall be.

My blood boils when some regional TV newsreader says: “A massive warehouse fire in Greater Manchester...” when it was in Bury.

I was heartened, however, when a mature lady student from Manchester University announced herself on “University Challenge” as “From Bolton, Lancashire.”

Good for you, lass!

The pro-Lancashire movement, exemplified by Friends of Real Lancashire, has made some progress in recent years.

Ordnance Survey has removed “Greater Manchester” from maps, and roadside signs for many of the 1974 creations have been removed.

Some may say: “What’s in a name? Does it matter?”

Well, yes it does. I fear that a Greater Manchester on steroids will have a disproportionate effect on the region.

I’m all in favour of more money being pumped into the North-West, but what’s in it for us in the rest of the region?

Will the Ribble Valley, along with Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and all those other Lancashire boroughs, feel the benefit, other than what may come from the unreliable trickle-down effect?

Instead, why not incorporate Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire into a highly devolved super authority with wide-ranging powers and more money to spend.

What shall we call it? Greater Lancashire!