Wigan should quit being a borough of Greater Manchester as it is only ‘detrimental’ – and rekindle its links with Lancashire, a petition is demanding.
Started on change.org by politician Michael Moulding – the leader of the Community Action Party – the petition attempts to persuade Wigan Council to launch a referendum over whether Wigan should remain part of Greater Manchester.
The petition has managed to entice more than 300 signatures in the three weeks since it was launched.
It will take 500 signatures before it is sent to Wigan Borough Council.
Mr Moulding believes that Wigan ‘deserve’ to have the referendum after being ‘dragged’ into the borough against their own will.
He told MM: “Wigan were dragged kicking and screaming into Greater Manchester. We were never consulted and deserve a chance to have our say.
“Young people are particularly confused as they have been raised on the idea that Wigan is in Manchester, whereas it is our cultural heritage that we are part of Lancashire.”
Mr Moulding also wishes to see links with Lancashire strengthened by producing reports for councillors and MPs outlining methods for keeping the traditional links the town has with the county.
“I believe Manchester is a ‘false region’, as Wigan being part of the borough makes no geographical sense,” he said.
The petition has gained support in recent weeks from many political parties in Wigan including Left Unity Wigan; and Wigan and Leigh Green Party.
Stephen Hall, the Left Unity candidate for Leigh, believes this surge in interest is related to the recent announcement of Manchester’s devolution from the NHS.
Hall feels that Wigan was in essence ‘kidnapped by Greater Manchester’. He says that the NHS devolution is ‘another in a long string of impositions’ on Wigan.
Hall added: “We just have to take it on the assurances of George Osbourne, and you really have to ask yourself would you buy a used car from this man?
“Would you buy a house just based on the picture, or would you have it properly surveyed and checked first?”
Mr Moulding feels that the devolution plans to introduce a Mayor of Manchester, who will in effect run the entire borough, will have a negative effect on Wigan.
“The partnership with Manchester has been detrimental to Wigan, economically, socially and culturally. Everything is about the city of Manchester and any surrounding towns are ignored.”
Peter Franzen however, founder of the Community Action Party, opposes the move and calls it ‘unattainable’.
He said: “People who wish to return to Lancashire are doing so from a position of nostalgia and it is not something our party can subscribe to.”
Mr Moulding believes that if the topic was put to a referendum, citing a recent BBC news segment which put the question to the people of Wigan.
“When asked the people gave it a clear thumbs down, with many expressing their belief that Wigan is and always has been part of Lancashire.”
Image courtesy of WhiteSatin3, via. YouTube, with thanks.