"DOES St Helens think it's in Merseyside? St Helens Council needs to decide where it is.”

These were the words of Liverpool Council Cabinet member at a recent meeting held at Liverpool University to discuss elected mayors.

St Helens’ real problem is that for almost 40 years it has faced an identity crisis. It was a Lancashire town that had grown on the back of coal and glass.

Yes, St Helens had an economic link with Liverpool, which needed fuel and building materials, but so had other towns in South Lancashire. It had closer ties with the neighbouring towns of Wigan, Widnes, Warrington and Leigh.

The residents of the town and the surrounding area went to bed one night in Lancashire but woke up the next day in Merseyside. They hadn't moved, but Whitehall bureaucrats told them they had.

The creation of Merseyside was hailed as “Independence for Liverpool” but was very unpopular with St Helens folk, and there were plenty of posters and stickers about saying “Back to Lancashire” and “Out of Merseyside.”

The bureaucrats didn’t listen, so we had to stay in Merseyside but didn’t really want to be there. We were nowhere near the Mersey, yet Warrington and Widnes, on the banks of the Mersey, were put into Cheshire. We were placed in Merseyside for no reason other than boosting its population.

We adjoin only one Merseyside borough, Knowsley, but also adjoin Wigan, Warrington and Widnes (Halton).

What relations and joint projects do we have with them? Precious few. We might do better in Greater Manchester, but Whitehall won’t let us move.

St Helens should reluctantly accept that for the moment it has to stay where it has been put, but sell itself as a Lancashire town in Merseyside, where hotpot meets scouse.

It has an industrial heritage to be proud of – but what do we see at St Helens Central Station and the bus station? Noticeboards telling the world about the World of Glass, the Transport Museum, Saints’ new ground, and Haydock Park and how to get there? No, we see absolutely nothing.

Unless St Helens celebrates what it has, it will fail. We don’t acquire a new identity through hanging on the coat tails of Liverpool, we celebrate the one we have already, one that our rulers at the Town Hall seem to have forgotten about.

Francis Williams, Eccleston, St Helens Green Party