I am a Preston lad through and through which means I am a Lancashire lad through and through too ! Many years ago I moved into Swinton which in previous years was also part of Lancashire. This may explain why I personally feel quite at home living here. I can see and hear the Lancashire roots in the townsfolk here. Swinton people are genuine people.
Issues around the identity of the people of Swinton & Pendlebury has been highlighted recently and came to the fore when the Boundary Commission proposed the setting up of a Swinton constituency in Parliament, which was vociferously objected too by some Salford people and definately the Salford Labour Party. I did what I could to defend the proposal and we await the outcome of the final recommendations of the Commission.
Even the Salford Advertiser mounted a big campaign for a Salford consituency to replace the proposed Swinton constituency. Then I wondered to myself - was it me ? Am I reading this wrong ? I thought living in Swinton and being Swintonian is what Swinton people resonate with.
Therefore, even though Swinton is in the city of Salford and all children born here from 1974 onwards, may regard themselves as being Salfordian, as that is when the Borough of SWinton & Pendlebury was abolished in 1972 Local Government Act, I believed that the vociferous campaign against Swinton was ill-judged by some against our town.
I went on the courage of my convictions, my beliefs, what I had seen and what I had heard by talking to local people. Swinton people love Swinton first & foremost. I therefore set up the "Save our Swinton" campaign. Went against the establishment to fight for what I believed in.
But also, having taken the time to listen to people true Swinton People I believe they are from Lancashire too. Swinton in Lancashire ! Before the 1974 abolition of the Borough of Swinton & Pendlebury, Swinton was part of lancashire, many services were provided by Lancashire County Council.
The fondness is such that I even received a telephone call from a Cliftonian when he told me off about one of my leaflets. He said you mentioning Clifton Country Park it is not. That is the name of the park that was given to it by Salford City Council. Clifton Country Park he said, was given to the people of Clifton and it was looked after by Lancashire County Council until it was taken off us. It is called Clifton Nature Reserve. So having taken his telling off in the spirit it was meant I have now changed my leaflets to say Clifton Nature Reserve.
I then telephones the Salford Advertiser and spoke to their editor about their "Save Salford" campaign. I explained to them that in my opinion whilst I respected their viewpoint, I had to explain to their young editor the historical origins of Swinton and that their campaign may offend many Swintonians and the town of Swinton.
Low and behold what did they do ? They sent a reporter to Swinton Precinct immediately to chat to some Swinton people. A full page spread was done about the subject and no surprise the majority in Swinton said they prefer the old county boundaries. IE They are Swintonian and want or believe that they should have stayed as part of Lancashire.
So just as the goverment took Swinton away from lancashire, brought it under the now Salford City Council we are now in a situation where if Salford Labour get their way we become part of Greater Manchester and may end up with having a Greater manchester Mayor controlling services in Salford.
I would imagine to do this there would have to be a further referendum. In this scenario - in my opinion because I believe it is what Swinton people would want the same referendum should ask the townsfolk of Swinton whether they want to go back to being part of Lancashire as they once where before 1974 and have the Borough of Swinton & Pendlebury Town Hall returned to the people of the town as it was paid for by the people of Swinton. And many have said to me that Swinton was indeed better served at that time by such an arrangement than the current situation.
If such a referendum was held containing such a question the result i believe would be surprising to the current establishment.