Fylde could be economic ‘hub’

Blackpool Councillor 'Coun Paul Galley
Blackpool Councillor 'Coun Paul Galley

A directly elected mayor overseeing a political union of the Fylde coast could make the area an “economic powerhouse”, according to one councillor.

Coun Paul Galley says Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre councils should follow the example of five northern cities which are set to combine to oversee a £15bn infrastructure project, known as One North.

The scheme will see Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield combine to work on improvements to road and rail links between the cities – and Coun Galley believes more concrete

cooperation on the Fylde could be have a similar impact on a smaller scale.

He said: “I believe that in terms of Blackpool we have to have a debate and ask do we eventually become one authority from Fleetwood to Lytham in terms of becoming our own economic powerhouse, in terms of highways and an economic plan. The plan has to be that we start working together as local authorities because resources are so much reduced. The days of having our own little empires are over.”

Tory Coun Galley represents Anchorsholme, which lies on the border of Blackpool and Wyre Council’s boundary.

Wyre leader Coun Peter Gibson recently announced his intention for the borough to become a unitary authority, meaning more services would be controlled from Poulton rather than County Hall.

Coun Galley also stated his support for a directly elected mayor overseeing the proposed authority.

Squires Gate Coun Douglas Green, the only Liberal Democrat currently serving on Fylde Council, has previously made calls for a united authority. He said: “I’ve talked to Liberal Democrats across the Fylde coast and none of us have opposed it. We just see it as a rational progression that we should all work together.”

However, Coun Green has rejected Coun Galley’s calls for a directly elected mayor, adding he would prefer to see a

return to the committee system of government, set to be reinstated by neighbouring Fylde Council next year.

He added: “I would never be in favour of a directly elected mayor, you’re putting too much power in too few people’s hands.”