Rossendale leader casts doubt on Lancashire devo deal

Alyson Barnes

Rossendale Borough Council has expressed its reservations about the proposed devolution deal for Lancashire in its response to the consultation. The council believes the current proposals fall short of delivering similar benefits for Lancashire, of those seen in other areas such as Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.

Council leader, Alyson Barnes, said: “We recognise the potential a devolution deal for Lancashire could have, but the current proposal falls short in addressing many key concerns that districts have. We’d like to see a more robust and inclusive plan to truly benefit our communities and unlock Lancashire’s full potential. There’s a distinct lack of inclusion for districts, raising concerns that the main benefits may disproportionately favour the three main upper tier councils, leaving the districts at a distinct disadvantage with this proposed arrangement.”

In a report delivered at an extraordinary council meeting earlier last week Rossendale Borough Council laid out its concerns. Key concerns include the management of future rounds of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), currently worth £43m to Lancashire district councils with the council advocating for continued responsibility at the district council level.

Cllr Barnes added: “The proposals for management of future rounds of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is a prime example. The 12 district councils in Lancashire received over £43m between us. Our allocation of just over £2m is assisting a wide range of projects and organisations across the Valley focusing on the delivery of local priorities that potentially would not have been funded by a central allocation.

“Changing it to a more remote arrangement with a limited understanding of local needs and requirements will lead to failure. A one size fits all approach just wouldn’t work.”

The report goes on to state that certain sections lack detail, particularly regarding the support for East Lancashire, the impact of the Lancashire Infrastructure Plan, and how digital infrastructure equity will foster economic growth across all districts.

Cllr Barnes added: “We believe that the current proposals need to be more ambitious to fully realise Lancashire’s potential. And we want to stress the importance of involving and planning comprehensively to ensure district councils are meaningfully represented and engaged in Lancashire’s broader devolution strategy if the deal is to be a success.”