NORTHERN POWERHOUSE: How authorities must change to gain powers

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle

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Local government across Lancashire is made up of Lancashire County Council, the unitary authorities of Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, and 12 district councils.

Nine councils, including Lancashire County Council, are Labour-led, four are Conservative and two have no overall majority.

There has to be a place in (the Northern Powerhouse) for Lancashire, we have got to work together as a Lancashire team, we all want to be on one team.

Lindsay Hoyle

While a combined authority would not need to be made up of every single council, leaders largely need to agree for the plans to work.

The Treasury says councils must speak to each other about what is wanted for the county, even if they don’t come together as a combined authority, but leaders are struggling to agree on what’s best.

Coun David Borrow of LCC said: “We don’t need all 15, but if we only had six it would be difficult.”

He said the system would not work if councils were divided on “political grounds”, but leaders don’t all agree on the benefits of a combined authority.

Labour MP for Chorley, Lindsay Hoyle, who is backing a drive for the town to become a unitary authority, said the county needed to work together for a place in the Northern Powerhouse, but slammed the idea of councils becoming one.

He said: “There has to be a place in (the Northern Powerhouse) for Lancashire, we have got to work together as a Lancashire team, we all want to be on one team.

“But I don’t believe in a combined authority – that’s absolutely ridiculous.

“What we’ve seen is the local authorities doing exceptionally well, none more so than Chorley, it’s a go-forward council so why would we want to destroy that?”

Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, said he didn’t think a combined authority would help with existing services in Preston,

He said: “Combined authorities will really only be looking at taking on new powers to do things that are more appropriately done within the locality rather than from London.

“The combined authorities aren’t going to help us with our services in terms of bin collection, the planning function, running the Harris or leisure services.”

South Ribble Council leader, Coun Margaret Smith, said she was in “listening mode” around the discussions of a combined authority.

She said: “Nobody to me has said that will be a definite benefit to us by doing it that way.

“At the moment, I’m in listening mode and I’ve told out council that and I’ve told the group that. Ultimately, it will be their decision to go or not – and they will want to know what the benefits are for South Ribble.”