Lancashire devo deal with no Mayor
Lancashire has been granted a “level two” devolution deal that doesn’t require the county to directly elect an all powerful Mayor.
The Conservative-led County Council revealed that their proposed deal will transfer new money and powers from central government to a newly created Combined County Authority and would give local leaders extra powers to tackle key priorities such as better public transport, boosting economic prosperity and improving employment and skills.
The new Combined County Authority would not require a change to the established county, borough or district councils across the area, and there would be no requirement for an elected mayor, nor the power to precept over and above the normal Council Tax ask.
Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young MP said: “I am delighted to agree this Level 2 devolution deal with Lancashire, which will bring more funding and powers out of Whitehall into the hands of communities in Lancashire.
Councillor Phillippa Williamson, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This proposed deal would help us to drive regeneration in our town and city centres, support new jobs in growing industries such as low carbon technologies, cyber security and energy, and make sure we have the right skills to take advantage of these opportunities.
“It would also enable greater co-ordination of our collective expertise, priorities and investment in our transport infrastructure to ensure that it meets the needs of people across the region.”
Under Government rules, only top-tier councils can be members of a Combined County Authority. In Lancashire’s case, this would be Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Blackpool Council.
Councillor Phil Riley, Labour Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “It’s a real triumph for everyone involved to have finally made a start on the devolution of powers to Lancashire after many false starts.
“This will give Lancashire a voice both nationally and, in the North West, allowing the region to start to compete on an even playing field with our neighbours in Manchester and Liverpool.
“This deal won’t change people’s lives overnight but it’s a really positive step in the right direction and, hopefully, the beginning of a story where more powers can be devolved from Westminster to Lancashire.
“At their best, councils are a force for good and we look forward to using our local knowledge to make sure any investment has the biggest and most positive impact for our residents.”
Councillor Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, also Labour, said: “The people of Blackpool and Lancashire deserve to benefit from devolution. For too long we have watched neighbouring areas benefit, whilst our county has missed out.
“As the Government has made clear, devolution is a long-term process and this is a positive start. It is my hope that this deal will give us a platform to secure more powers and resource for our communities into the future.”
The deal proposal will now be discussed by members of each constituent council at a series of council meetings. If all the councils agree, a public consultation will then be held so residents and businesses can have their say on the deal proposal. Each council will then consider the findings of the consultation before the final proposal is submitted to Government for Parliamentary approval next year.