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SHOULD THERE BE AN ELECTED regional government for the North West?

GRANADA TV commenced broadcasting in 1955 as one of the regionally based independent television companies which were set up to provide an alternative to the BBC. In 2004 ITV finally became one national company, though its regional focus remains. Granada programmes like Look North West and Up Front , as well as BBC's North West Tonight, Inside Out, and Northwestminster have helped to create a real sense of North West culture and identity.

Some say the 'Granadaland' region is a spurious entity, but transmitter coverage areas are not arbitrary. They are bounded by features such as the Pennines, the Lake District the Cheshire Plain and the Welsh mountains.

The area has an identity that's distinct from Yorkshire to the east and the Potteries to the south, and I believe it's time to give that identity an elected voice.

SADDLEWORTH is described as 'a Yorkshire community on the Lancashire side of the Pennines'. The landscape and architecture of the district just over the hill from Oldham have a strong feel of traditional Yorkshire.

In 1974 it was merged with Oldham and neighbouring Lancashire towns to form Oldham MBC, of which it forms 53% of the land area. The historic boundary of Yorkshire effectively divides Oldham MBC in two. Some might prefer Saddleworth to join the Yorkshire and Humberside region, though there are many practical and economic reasons for keeping local authority arrangements as they are.

Saddleworth is a district caught between two regions. Ultimately people in the area should have their say. The organisation currently assessing local authority arrangements all over the country is the Boundary Committee for England and Wales, www.boundarycommittee.org.uk who welcome comments and suggestions from everyone.

WERNETH LOW is a hill to the south east of Manchester with panoramic views over Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire as far as the Welsh mountains. From this point the southern part of the North West region can be seen with one sweep of the eye.

With a population of over 7 million, the North West is bigger than many countries, including EU members Finland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland and tiny Luxembourg. And yet all major political decisions affecting this substantial part of the world are taken around 200 miles (320km) to the south east in London.

Most MP's have never stood on this spot or any other local vantage point, looked out over the region and taken in its spectacular diversity and dynamism. Indeed most of them have hardly spent any time here at all. It's important to have a decision-making focus right here, and to have it elected directly by voters living here.

BEESTON CASTLE stands on top of a steep hill in the middle of Cheshire. In medieval times this was a commanding position - whoever held Beeston controlled the surrounding area. From here you can see north east towards Manchester, north west towards Liverpool and directly south towards the Wrekin hill in Shropshire.

The surrounding countryside is some of the most agriculturally important and most beautiful in the UK. People in the countryside often complain that decisions are geared towards the big cities. Could an elected regional government give the countryside a greater voice? I believe it could, simply for reasons of proximity and relative importance. Cheshire in its post 1974 boundaries accounts for only a tiny proportion of the UK. It is represented by just 8 MPs out of 659, just over 1%.

In the regional context, Cheshire is one of the five sub-regions along with the Merseyside area around Liverpool, Greater Manchester, the Lancashire administrative area and Cumbria. Cheshire will have a large and powerful voice in the new government alongside the urban areas.

CHESTER is one of Britain's most famous visitor destinations. Its name and roots go back to city and key centre of the Roman occupation. Chester gave its name to the ancient county of Cheshire which stretches from the Wirral peninsula to the Pennines, first mentioned a thousand years ago.

Today Chester's Roman heritage, its attractive Victorian shopping streets, its cathedral, city walls and riverside location make it a magnet for visitors. But within the corridors of the Cheshire County Council offices there has been a concern that the present administrative area of Cheshire will be split up into two or three units.

Cheshire councillors advocate keeping the area as a unitary authority, and giving power to town and parish councils. This seems like a good idea to me, and in in October voters will be able to have their say. More info on www.cheshire.gov.uk Cheshire County Council website

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