Brexit effect on devolution for Lancashire

The UK's decision to leave the EU could affect Lancashire councils' bid to create a combined authority, it has been claimed.

Friday, 1st July 2016, 11:54 am
Updated Friday, 1st July 2016, 1:57 pm
Labour Leader of Preston Council, Councillor Peter Rankin

Leader of Preston Council, Coun Peter Rankin, said talks had been progressing and a proposal was due to be submitted to the government.

But he raised fears over the impact of Brexit on the development of the plans, and said councils needed to move as quickly as possible.

A part of his leader’s report to the latest full council meeting, Coun Rankin said: “14 out of the 15 Lancashire councils have been working on this proposal, and we’ll be submitting our proposal for a combined authority to the government.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“That proposal will include a governance review, the outcome of the consultation, and various letters of support.”

But Coun Rankin said there was now a “new situation” following the Brexit decision, and raised fears over a possibility of Chancellor George Osborne standing down.

He said: “My big concern is Osborne is a very big champion of devolution and if we go, my question is will devolution continue?

“This is why I think it’s very important that when we meet as leaders next week, we submit this as quickly as we possibly can and hopefully we do get everything in very quickly and we make progress.”

Speaking in the council chamber on Thursday, Coun Rankin said he was also concerned about the impact Brexit could have on the civil service, and therefore work on the combined authority.

He said: “The other big concern I have is the civil service is really going to be focused on other issues, particularly how we get out of the mess we are in, and will be paying a lot less attention to authorities like ours asking for devolution of powers. With those concerns, I commend the report to you.”

Coun Rankin said Wyre Council had not changed its position not to join in a combined authority, which is set to include 14 out of the 15 councils in Lancashire.