Councils take first step towards ‘devolution’

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Council chiefs took the “first small step” in what could become a giant leap for Lancashire when they agreed this week to investigate setting up a combined authority for the county.

And the chance to chase more devolved powers - and cash - from central government was described as “an important and exciting opportunity” by the leader of Lancashire County Council.

Coun Jennifer Mein, who met with the leaders of all 12 district councils and two unitary authorities to discuss the proposal, said: “We know that if we do not change the way we work we stand the risk of being left behind in the wake of our region’s cities.

“In order to gain the vital devolved budgets and powers we need for our communities we have to explore changes to the ways we work together to deliver the economic development, job creation and transport solutions Lancashire deserves.

“I am extremely pleased that council leaders from across the county have agreed in principle to explore the potential of a combined authority for Lancashire. We have agreed to establish a joint officer working group to further explore what a combined authority might look like for Lancashire and to develop a report for leaders to debate at our next meeting.

“To achieve a combined authority for Lancashire, similar to the one they have in Greater Manchester, will take a series of small steps. This was the first of these. This is an important and exciting opportunity we cannot afford to ignore.”

The meeting, which took place on Lancashire Day, was described as “productive.” Coun Mein added: “There is a clear consensus that the democratically elected leaders of Lancashire’s councils are best placed to make decisions on the big strategic issues that affect the county.”

The council leaders agreed to meet again in December.