Lancashire’s combined authority plans move step closer after vote

Big plans: Lancashire County Councils County Hall
Big plans: Lancashire County Councils County Hall
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The creation of a Lancashire-wide authority has moved forward after Lancashire County Council formally voted to support the move.

Some 2,000 residents and businesses took part in consultation, organised by Lancashire’s councils and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, with 70 per cent of respondents supporting the principle of a combined 
authority.

It would create a legal body enabling councils to work more closely together on strategic issues, such as transport and skills, to help secure more investment and jobs for the county.

It does not involve any kind of merger between councils.

Jo Turton, chief executive of Lancashire County Council, said: “Lancashire’s councils have been working towards setting up a combined authority for some time now and this decision was the next stage in that process.

“Residents and businesses responded very positively to the consultation earlier this year and county councillors have now given it their support.

“At a time when resources are tight and central government is keen to devolve power and funding to a more local level, this is another step towards councils working more closely together on the big strategic issues that affect us all.

“Not all councils have formally made their decision yet but if all goes well we could see a formal bid submitted in the next few months.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, has warned the town, which is run as a unitary authority, could lose some of its independence if it includes itself in the combined authority.

He says not enough questions have been asked about the cost implications.

Wyre Council leader Peter Gibson has said his council does not want to be part of the new set-up.

The consultation covered all parts of the county and found 74 per cent of respondents agreed a partnership approach is important. Of those who disagree with the proposal, the main concerns are around where any resources would be focused across the county and the adverse impact the proposal might have on local services.