05 June 2018

Councils agree to seek devolution

Leaders across Lancashire are back in discussions with Government ministers over a devolution deal after a positive meeting last week.

Fourteen of the 15 Lancashire councils agreed to form a ‘Lancashire Leaders’ partnership, which will see them look to strike a deal with Government, which could devolve power and money from Whitehall.

The latest move is a great step forward for the county after negotiations to create a Combined Authority broke down last year.

Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, Leader of Lancashire County Council and chair of the Lancashire Leaders group, said: “All the leaders know it is in the best interests of the county to work better together but the important thing is that we get the mechanism for how we do that right.

“We’ve been having positive discussions since the early part of this year and we’ve now formed a new collaboration that will see us work together on topics such as transport, jobs and housing, which affect the whole county, and this group will drive forward negotiations with Government to see if they will devolve meaningful power and investment to us to make sure this great county plays an important role in the Northern Powerhouse.

“For too long we’ve seen money pouring into Manchester and Merseyside and now it is time to ensure we can work together to create more opportunities and jobs for our residents.”

Each of the council leaders, with the exception of Fylde Borough Council, agreed on a set of principles that will lead to a Lancashire Strategy, terms for a devolution deal and a new set of governance arrangements.

“We had the leaders from all councils, except Fylde, at the meeting and while it’d be great to have everyone around the table they are keeping a close eye on what’s happening and as we drive this forward I hope they will join our group and take an active part in shaping the future of Lancashire,” said Councillor Driver.

“We’ve let the Government know about the progress we are making and we’re just waiting to hear back to see how they would like to progress discussions around a devolution deal.

“We’ve got a lot to be proud of here in Lancashire as we have one of the largest economies in the North of England home to over 40,000 businesses employing in excess of 670,000 people and we want to see that continue to grow.”

Each of the leaders will be taking these proposals back to their respective councils to update colleagues and get ratification on the updated plans as required.