Does our council always put Lancaster first ahead of Morecambe?
Leading city councillors say a firm ‘no’ – and have come out fighting against the Morecambe MP’s claims of bias towards Lancaster.
After David Morris said “Lancaster does not want to see Morecambe succeed”, council leader Eileen Blamire and senior colleagues called his remarks “reprehensible” and “a disturbing attempt to set the people of one part of our wonderful district against another”.
They hit back at Mr Morris after he wrote a letter to Morecambe residents about plans to merge Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham into one General Election seat.
Mr Morris, who is fighting the plans for one combined MP for Lancaster and Morecambe, wrote: “I understand that this proposal is very unpopular locally due to the universally held view that Lancaster takes all the funding from Morecambe as it does not want to see Morecambe succeed.
“I agree with many of you and believe very passionately that Morecambe needs its own Member of Parliament separate from Lancaster to spearhead investment following the build of the M6 link road.
“Many of you have already written to me saying ‘Lancaster is always trying to overshadow Morecambe...they are jealous of Morecambe succeeding’...’Morecambe cannot possibly live in the shadow of Lancaster’...’Morecambe needs real representation to bring out real potential in the area’...’Morecambe as a seaside town needs to have one MP dedicated to seaside regeneration not be lumped with a city’.”
In an open letter to our newspaper, Coun Blamire and fellow Lancaster City Council cabinet members called this “an extraordinary statement from a Member of Parliament”.
“Does he think that this is literally true?” they wrote.
“Are his comments directed at the city council, which has responsibility for both Morecambe and Lancaster?
“We can assure him that the council has been funding projects in Morecambe just as assiduously as elsewhere in the district.
“We are passionate in our desire that Morecambe should succeed, as should every part of the district.
“Almost two-thirds of city councillors represent wards in David Morris’ constituency. Does he think that they will allow Lancaster to dominate Morecambe?
“In truth, we do not think that David Morris actually believes what he has written.
“One of the council’s priorities is to try to bring communities together.
“However, his words appear to be a disturbing attempt to set the people of one part of our wonderful district against another, and that is reprehensible when we all have so much in common.”
In a separate letter to the newspaper, Coun Blamire described the idea that the city council treats Lancaster and Morecambe differently as “an urban myth that has no basis in reality”.
She quoted several examples, including that Lancaster City Council funds one festival in Morecambe (Vintage-by-the-Sea) and one in Lancaster (Light up Lancaster), runs one major ‘attraction’ park in each town (Happy Mount Park and Williamson Park), runs one entertainment venue in Morecambe (the Platform) and one in Lancaster (the Dukes), has town halls in both city and town, and has spent money within the past three years on improving shopping streets in both Lancaster and Morecambe. She also said millions of pounds had been spent in Morecambe on the West End, the sea wall and the promenade.
“All this work is carried out by a committed workforce, many of whom not only work in Morecambe but also live in the town,” she said.
“They all have families and friends who live in Morecambe too – can you seriously tell me that they do not want their own town to prosper and thrive?
“It’s an insult to their hard work to claim otherwise.”