The Friends of Lancashire Trust is calling for public donations 'to keep alive the red rose of Lancashire' and believes the county is 'the one organisation that holds together the proud Lancastrian tradition'.
'As the leading people involved in the Friends of Lancashire Trust had strong county council or Lancashire County Enterprises connections, the districts wanted to make sure the advertising was not being put by people with an interest in the county surviving,' said Jeff Davies, chief executive of Chorley BC and secretary of the Association of District Councils' Lancashire branch.
'We also wanted to make sure the trust was not just a way of getting round the legal rules which stop councils paying for adverts which persuade rather than inform.'
The trust secretary is former county member Ron Pickup, who is a board member of Lancashire County Enterprises.
Mr Proos said he did not see any problem with individuals involved in the trust also being linked to the firm.
'We happen to believe [the status quo] is the best of the three options. The trust is not motivated by any other reason. In the 1960s I was in favour of unitaries and regional government, but we are not getting regional government. It seems a poor compromise,' he said.
The trust had received several thousand pounds in donations since it was set up about three months ago, he said.
Lancashire County Enterprises has a 19.9% stake in Lancashire Enterprises plc, set up in 1989 to take over about £5 million of its assets and its 150 staff. It does economic development work for the county and is subcontracted to run Lancashire County Enterprises' operations.
An LGC enquiry to Lancashire Enterprises plc's public relations department was put through to Barbara Sharples, who said: 'Lancashire Enterprises has a plc called Enterprise Public Relations which is a separate company, and I believe they acted for [the trust].'
When asked for its telephone number she said: 'You're through to it.' Ms Sharples is its media buyer.
Her firm had placed the trust's advertisements in local papers but she stressed it was just another client and had been invoiced for the work involved. 'I know Lancashire Enterprises has not had any involvement or put any money into it.'
Mr Davies wrote to county chief executive Gordon Johnson in July asking about any links between the county, the companies and the trust.
Mr Johnson's second reply said: 'Happily the days of the inquisition have not yet returned to this country or this county. I do not, therefore, have to respond seriatim to a would-be cross-examination.'
The districts are awaiting a reply from Lancashire Enterprises plc.