An article about Pam’s crusade was published in The Grimsby Telegraph on 13 April 2018:
Grimsby campaigner explains why she wants us to stop saying we live in North East Lincolnshire.
Retired factory worker Pam Moorhouse is taking her campaign to restore the historic counties to Parliament.
Our Parliamentary Correspondent Patrick Daly spoke to the Grimsby campaigner who wants to make people proud to be Lincolnshire yellow-bellies once again.
Knowing who to call when something needs doing in Grimsby has become pretty confusing in recent times.
Spotted a pothole? Call North East Lincolnshire Council. Been a victim of crime? Ring Humberside Police. Need emergency medical attention? Then it will be East Midlands Ambulance Service that arrives to help.
But it doesn’t stop there – Grimsby businesses deal with not one but two local enterprise partnerships (LEP) when campaigning for investment. Food specialist businesses deal with the Lincolnshire LEP but everyone else deals with the Humber LEP.
And when it comes to government funding and statistics, it gets even more bewildering. Grimsby and Cleethorpes is lumped in as part of the Yorkshire and Humber region but nearby places, such as the village of Holton-le-Clay and the town of Louth – less than a half-hour drive away from Grimsby – fall into the East Midlands region, grouping them with places as far afield as Derbyshire and Northamptonshire.
With all that to remember, it is no wonder people are confused about their local identity.
But there is a group that want to change all that. The British Counties Campaign is fighting for due prominence to be restored to the 92 counties of the UK, with Lincolnshire pushed as a single identity for the region.
Founder of the campaign is Grimsby pensioner Pam Moorhouse and she will be heading to Westminster on Tuesday, April 17, to try and enlist more MPs to the cause.
The retired biscuit factory worker had 1,000 people sign her petition in September to have North East Lincolnshire revert back to its traditional Lincolnshire name.
And now her national campaign has the support of two Lincolnshire Conservative MPs, Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers and Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh, who represents the areas of West Lindsey, Caistor and Market Rasen.
Ms Moorhouse, aged 72, says the current system has “robbed” the area and its people of their history.
The county of Lincolnshire emerged out of the Kingdom of Lindsey – the region was referred to as Lindsey in the 11 century Doomsday Book – and is the second largest county in England after Yorkshire, covering a huge area from the banks of the Humber in the north to the Wash in the south.
When modern local government was established in 1888, the newly created administrative area closely mirrored the historic county area of Lincolnshire, with Grimsby continuing with its borough status.
But campaigners say confusion crept into the system in 1974 when the local government shake-up saw new administrative areas created and given new ‘county’ names, such as Humberside County Council which brought Hull, Grimsby, northern Lincolnshire and parts of the East Riding of Yorkshire together.
Grimsby escaped the much-maligned clutches of Humberside in 1996, with northern Lincolnshire split up into North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council.
But Ms Moorhouse, who moved to the town from Bradford when she was seven, says the practise of using North East Lincolnshire as a place name should be scrapped in favour of reinstating the heritage of Lincolnshire.
“I want to clear up the confusion about county names,” said the Heneage resident.
“The local council doesn’t have to talk about North East Lincolnshire as a place – if it wants to attract new business, it could say, ‘Come and build your factory in the Grimsby/Cleethorpes area’.
“Why did we need a new name anyway? They created the council and the Humberside area to attract new business but we didn’t have those names before – we used to just say, ‘Come build your factory on the south bank of the Humber in Lincolnshire’. We didn’t ever get a chance to vote on bringing the Lincolnshire name back [after the dissolution of Humberside].”
Ms Moorhouse is particularly concerned about the history of areas being rewritten, with history books and museums referring to modern administrative council names before they ever existed.
She says the name Humberside and then later North East Lincolnshire was “forced” upon people without any say in the matter.
“They are deliberately wiping our history out when these counties have been around for a thousand years,” she said.
“This is about where people live – it is our history and it important to anyone who lives here.
“Millions of people across the country are still very upset about the changes and rightly so because they were robbed. If this carries on, then we will lose the history altogether. Young people won’t know anything about the traditional counties.”
Campaigners will descend upon Parliament next week to pitch their idea for a Traditional Counties Bill to be brought into law.
The British Counties Campaign want the law to restrict the use of the word ‘county’ to the 92 historic counties of the UK (39 in England) and for ‘county councils’ to be renamed.
Emergency Services – such as Humberside Police and Humberside Fire and Rescue – should also have their names changed and their service area “aligned as closely possible with the [traditional] counties”, according to the proposed draft wording of the bill.
Regions – such as Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands – should be wiped off the map entirely if they are deemed to clash with the county identity, argue the campaigners.
The activists also want the Royal Mail to promote the use of the “appropriate county” on addresses, bringing the Lincolnshire name back to full prominence, while media outlets should also do the same.
Ms Moorhouse says she hopes to persuade a few more MPs to support the bill – just as backbench MP Mr Vickers did last year.
Speaking to the Telegraph last September, the Resort MP said: “This is not to do with changing local government boundaries. It is just saying that I’m a Lincolnshire yellow-belly and people are proud of their county and calling it North Lincolnshire or North East Lincolnshire waters down that identity.”
Whether more MPs do sign-up to the aims of the campaign and its proposed law change remains to be seen.
There are certainly benefits – administrative, cultural and economic – in putting greater emphasis on a single Lincolnshire identity. Tourism chiefs would no doubt love it as well.
But when Parliament is gridlocked with Brexit legislation and the national focus is on finding the cash for the country’s creaking health service and under-strain schools, some MPs may well decide that spending money on re-jigging and re-naming great swathes of public services just to revert back to a traditional place name is not at the top of the political to-do-list right now.