Lancashire’s bid to form a combined authority is motoring on, bosses have assured.
Preston Council leader Peter Rankin said the county was hoping for approval from the government, and would then be asking for devolved powers.
It comes as Lancashire has been accused of “missing the boat” on the Northern Powerhouse, with business chiefs fearing the county is being “sidelined” by the agenda.
Speaking at the latest full council meeting, Coun Rankin said: “We weren’t sure exactly what the response from the new Prime Minister would be, and what her view on devolution and the combined authority would be.
“I think Theresa May has clarified her position on the so-called Northern Powerhouse, when she spoke about the need for Yorkshire to get involved.” He said it was “regrettable” she had left out Lancashire, but said she had urged Yorkshire to set up a combined authority.
He said: “All is sweetness and light in Lancashire.
“Except Wyre, the whole of Lancashire is in agreement in the way we are proceeding, so we are hopeful we’ll get approval from Government to be a combined authority, and we’ll then go on to ask Government for devolved powers and take it from there.
“There is, perhaps, less emphasis on elected mayors than when George Osborne was very keen on the idea, so we are quietly hopeful that we are moving away from the essential requirement of having an elected mayor for the county, but time will tell.”
A leader’s report from Coun Rankin said work was under way to progress the Lancashire Plan, due to be presented to the combined authority group in September.
It said the priorities for authorities working together and aspirations for devolution would be based around five themes of “skilled Lancashire”, “better homes”, “connected”, “prosperous” and “public service reform”.
In Tuesday’s Lancashire Evening Post, we reported head of networking group Downtown in Business Frank McKenna saying the county must “accelerate its plans to get the Combined Authority motoring”, and show the Prime Minister it is ready for the types of powers other cities are benefitting from.