Today, Monday 27 November, marks a momentous occasion – Lancashire Day!

I first came to Blackburn for a two-week holiday in 1977 to visit family, and I never left. I was welcomed with open arms by a friendly and hospitable community, which has since become my home. 

My children and grandchildren were raised here, and I consider myself an adopted Blackburnian.

Lancashire has faced challenges since its prime at the heart of modern industrialisation with its renowned textiles industry, but it nevertheless remains a strong economic force for business, investment, and growth. 

During my over 20 years serving on Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, I learnt not only about the local issues, but about the spirit and determination of the community.

As the Member of Parliament for Blackburn, I always strive to represent the issues that my constituents face, and to voice Blackburn's successes – and challenges – in Westminster. It has been a privilege to represent the place that I love for the last eight years. I look forward to attending several events in parliament this week to celebrate Lancashire Day. The current Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is a proud Lancastrian too.

On the eve of Lancashire Day, a formal DHLUC document was officially signed at a special ceremony at Lancaster Castle.

READ: What is Lancashire Day and why do we celebrate it?

Lancashire Day quiz: How much do you know about the Red Rose County?

This devolution deal, alongside £20 million of capital funding, transfers new powers to the Lancashire Combined County Authority (covering Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and the Lancashire County Council areas) to support businesses and residents across Lancashire, and facilitate investment in local priorities.

Local leaders will be given more control and influence over levers of local growth, such as the devolution of the adult education budget.

The deal offered by Government promises to give the county extra powers to tackle key local priorities such as better public transport, boosting economic prosperity and improving employment and skills.

It should also give Lancashire a stronger voice on the regional and national stage, ensuring the county does not miss out on vital funding and opportunities.

The deal will now be agreed by relevant bodies and stakeholders, after which the legislation will go before parliament. Once that legislation is approved, the devolution deal will be implemented.

I welcome the fact that Lancashire will finally be given a devolution deal and look forward to seeing the county grow from strength to strength.

However, whilst I welcome the extra funding and powers for Lancashire, this deal is still only devolution-lite. True devolution is about handing the powers and decisions back to local areas, not prescribing from Westminster how much independence each area is allowed or how it should be governed.

I want to ensure that Lancashire is able to become the very best possible place to live, work, visit, and study.

We have seen the brilliant progress that can be made in the North West when an area has a far-reaching devolution deal in place, with Andy Burnham recently reregulating buses across Greater Manchester, and Steve Rotherham on the cusp of delivering similar projects in the Liverpool city region. 

A Labour Government would hope to build on this deal, in order to deliver the very best for the people of Lancashire.

Lancashire Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate the county’s rich heritage, culture, and diversity. It is a day of pride for all Lancastrians and an opportunity to come together in commemoration of our county's history, its remarkable achievements, and its bright future.