Referendum calls persist

Campaigners calling for a referendum on the Devo Manc deal were present around towns in Greater Manchester on Saturday, from left, Will Patterson, Joe Taylor, Hazel Duffy and Andy Moorhouse, pictured at Market Place
Campaigners calling for a referendum on the Devo Manc deal were present around towns in Greater Manchester on Saturday, from left, Will Patterson, Joe Taylor, Hazel Duffy and Andy Moorhouse, pictured at Market Place

WIGAN campaigners are persevering with their attempts to force a referendum on the devolution deal for Greater Manchester.

A number of events have been organised to raise public awareness of their cause with Wiganers being warned they are getting the raw end of the deal.

The right for the people to decide who governs them and how is a basic democratic principle

Will Patterson

The group is calling for the public to have a more direct say on the transfer of powers from Westminster after accusing the decision to appoint an interim mayor as bypassing the democratic process.

Campaign representative Will Patterson said: “The right for the people to decide who governs them and how is a basic democratic principle.

“To make matters worse, the legislation setting out such a huge constitutional change has started in the unelected House of Lords.

“Every devolution body that’s been established in the UK, in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Greater London, has been approved by the people in a referendum. Why should we be treated any differently?”

Police Commissioner Tony Lloyd has now started his role as the region’s interim mayor before elections take place in 2017.

The process for choosing the stand-in role was criticised for “bypassing” any form of public vote.

Although calls for a referendum have been rejected by GM council leaders who argue the process has been democratic because the region’s elected local authority leaders picked the candidate.

Mr Patterson added: “It’s clear to any observer that the borough and its representatives are punching below their weight on GM-wide bodies.

“Whether it’s TfGM imposing the unwanted guided busway on Leigh, or the Healthier Together consultation overlooking Wigan when selecting its specialist hospitals. This shows how imperative it is that we have a direct input into how these services are run, how GM is governed, and what these plans mean for all of us.”

The referendum campaign group will meet on August 13 at the Anvil pub on Dorning Street from 7.15pm.

And representatives plan to address visitors to the Wake Up Wigan event held in the town centre this Saturday followed by a planned day of action in Leigh the following weekend.