Combined Authority plans stall

Lancashire's bid for a combined authority has hit another roadblock after four of the 15 councils ruled themselves out of devolution negotiations.

The scrapped proposals seem to have been given a new lease of life when the Conservative election manifesto mentioned that combined authorities would no longer require an elected mayor, which had been a previous point of contention within the county.

Each of Lancashire's councils agreed in September to resume negotiations, however Wyre, Ribble Valley, Fylde and Lancashire County Council have each now walked away from the table.

Councillor Simon Blackburn, chair of the shadow combined authority, said: "It is really disappointing to see certain councils turn down the opportunity to get us to a stage where we can take on more powers from the government and have more of an influence over what happens here in Lancashire.

"You only have to look at this week's budget where areas that are working together through combined authority models are seeing millions of pounds being given to them to invest in their locality and Lancashire didn't get a penny.

"The credibility of Lancashire is at stake here and I've not met a single person from the business community who doesn't think this is a good idea for Lancashire."

He will now meet with government ministers to ask if it is possible to proceed with the support of only the remaining 11. He will also request pressure be applied to his 'Conservative colleagues' as the combined authority 'is government policy'. Simon added: "As a group we've done all we can to get everyone to take part but for whatever reason some councils don't think it's the right thing to do and we have to respect that.

"It really does pain me to see other areas getting significant amounts of money to invest in things like transport, housing and infrastructure and we will get left behind.

"The door will remain open for those councils to come back into the fold and in the meantime the rest of us will wait and see as to what comes of the meeting with the government."