The chief executive of Downtown in business, Frank McKenna, has warned that Lancashire is in danger of missing out on funding, the levelling up agenda and devolution if its senior politicians don’t start to get their act together quickly.
Mr McKenna said:
The new local government and Housing Minister Michael Gove is someone who wants to deliver on the government’s promise to ‘level up’. That means that he will be looking for partners who are able to identify priorities, evidence how investment into their places will deliver economic growth, and have a coherent, visionary approach.
“There is no reason why Lancashire should not be at the forefront of those conversations, but in recent months we have gone from having a ‘best in class’ city of culture bid undermined by the County Council, a dynamic marketing strategy led by Marketing Lancashire, and optimism about a Greater Lancashire Plan to a return to the small time, parochial politics that have held us back for far too long.
“I am now told that both Cumbria and North Yorkshire have jumped ahead of Lancashire as far as getting a devolution deal is concerned. Quite frankly, that is a joke.”
In a Lancashire Property Conference hosted by Lancashire Business View last week, Mr McKenna hit out at a lack of vision and the absence of a strong figurehead to champion the county at government level.
He told the conference “Twenty years ago, Lancashire ran the best economic development company in the country, we had an office in Brussels that we made a profit on by renting space to all of the other Northwest authorities, and we led the Northwest Regional Assembly. Now, we can’t even get in a place at the table with the big decision-makers in the region. “The ambition of our political leaders needs to match that of our private sector and take advantage of the tremendous opportunities and potential Lancashire has to offer.”