New vision for Lancashire County Council

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A new vision of how a scaled- down Lancashire county council could operate in the future was put to councillors yesterday.

Radical proposals to set up central service delivery points – called Neighbourhood Centres – in 34 distinct areas of the county were unveiled in a new Corporate Strategy.

Members of the council’s executive scrutiny committee had met to scrutinise the wide ranging £65m package of cuts, revealed last week, which are set to be given Cabinet approval tomorrow. The strategy, discussed in private, says other players, including private and voluntary sectors and local residents, must help to deliver effective services.

Council leader Coun Jenny Mein predicted: “We will be working with neighbouring councils to create a new model for public service delivery in Lancashire which would go hand in hand with a devolution deal with central government.”

Earlier fears that residents across rural Lancashire will be isolated and left without transport if subsidies affecting 59 bus routes are withdrawn caused much debate. Coun Graham Gooch said: “In New Longton a lot of older people will be devoid of bus service.”

He argued the bus cuts were “too much too late” and should have been discussed earlier, noting it would cost £100,000 to run a bus service but parish councils may have an income of just £25,000.

Green party councillor, Gina Dowding, also raised concerns and asked could £2m earmarked to support parish and community-based transport be reallocated to private bus companies if no new bus provision was agreed.

But Coun Alyson Barnes said a new service, planned with flexibility and imagination, could be better.

Deputy council leader County Coun David Borrow pledged talks would be held to see how service gaps could be plugged.