‘Unconvinced’ MP turns back on City Status bid

Bid for city status by Mike Moulding and Peter Franzen
Bid for city status by Mike Moulding and Peter Franzen

A BOROUGH MP is refusing to back the Community Action Party’s campaign to win the area City Status.

Deputy leader Michael Moulding – who was a Preston councillor during its successful city campaign – believes the time is right to press for “promotion” for Wigan to win much needed tourism and industrial development millions.

It has now launched a Government e-petition on the Number 10 Downing Street which, at the time of going to press, has attracted approaching 500 names in support.

The move will automatically trigger a Parliamentary debate should it secure more than 10,000 signatures.

But MP Andy Burnham –the Shadow Health Secretary – doesnn’t believe the campaign should be a priority.

The Leigh MP said: “I am not aware at the current time of any intention by HM Government to invite applications and as you may well be aware invitations are invited on special occasions such as the Diamond Jubilee, with applications were also invited in 2000, (to mark the Millennium) and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.

“In the current economic climate I remain unconvinced that chasing titles is in the best interests of the borough, but I accept that this may change in the future. Swindon pulled out of the 2012 competition pointing to this as a contributory factor.”

Mr Burnham also pointed out that the e-petition also sets out plans to reduce the number of elected councillors by two third to save money.

But there was a wider debate on the nature of local democracy, including reductions or increases in councillor numbers and it was right that the independent Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBC) is the appropriate body to perform this function in its periodic reviews of local authority boundaries.

Mr Moulding said Mr Burnham should back the campaign because it was in the interests of the borough.

He said: “He has rightly shouted up for his home city of Liverpool who in recent years have benefitted enormously for being a city.

“Recently, Liverpool has received £130m in a city deal of direct investment from government and private sector.

“Liverpool has been transformed.

“The borough of Wigan is missing out by playing second fiddle to Manchester and its continuous failure to seek City Status has resulted in hundreds of millions of pounds of lost investment and regeneration that could have come directly into the borough bringing increased prosperity, jobs and tourism.”

Mr Moulding also pointed out that Liverpool has the benefit of a city-style executive mayor after agreeing a new style of local government in return for huge government investment.