Lancashire councils push ahead for combined authority


The leaders of all 14 councils in Lancashire are "pushing ahead" to forge a combined authority.

It follows a "devolution deal" by the government to give areas like Greater Manchester more powers over how public money is spent.

Lancashire council leader Jennifer Mein said talks involved the 12 borough councils as well as unitary authorities Blackpool and Blackburn.

It would be biggest change in local government in the county since 1974.

'Strong argument'

"I think everybody has realised we now need to work much more closely together... and the only way it can work is if we still have the same strategic objectives," said Ms Mein.

The Labour councillor said she would not necessarily be at the helm of the new alliance as the leader would be decided by "consensus".

Previously, the then Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said it was working along with the rest of the council authorities to "explore a number of options for collaboration" but there were "no firm proposals" at that stage.

Analysis: Chris Rider, BBC Radio Lancashire political reporter

So the heat is on for Lancashire's council leaders, all 14 of them, knowing that if they want to become involved in a combined authority they need to crack on.

The carrot being dangled by the government is the promise of more local powers.

This will be the biggest change in local government since the county council and two-tier system was established back in 1974.

The calm approach of county council leader Jennifer Mein will stand in good stead as the meetings come thick and fast, party differences put to one side.

A board representing all councils should enable each one to feel involved. No room for any fall outs. But what will Lancashire's combined authority actually look like?

Throughout the difficult economic times I have heard the phrase "working together" time and time again.

Now it is time to be put into practice, big time.

Two-tier system

Blackpool council leader Simon Blackburn has said there was a "strong argument" for a combined authority.

Since 1974, Lancashire County Council has been operating a two-tier system with borough councils where the county council is in charge of major projects.

In a combined alliance, each council will discuss and reach agreement on key issues.

Combined authorities are supported by the coalition government which has signalled its willingness to give them extra power and responsibility.

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