Council leaders pledge cooperation to secure devolution deal

By Tim Aldred

12 Jan 2022

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Council leaders from across the county - including the county council, each of the 12 districts, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen - have pledged to work together to secure a New Deal for Lancashire.

The 15 leaders have been collaborating for more than a year on devolution plans which would bring home control over aspects such as the economy, transport, jobs, skills and the environment.

And they are now considering establishing a formal body to underscore the cooperation and help secure government backing for its proposals.

The moves follow a July 2021 announcement by the government that it would introduce devolved County Deals, which transfer decision-making powers and funding away from the capital. Further details are to be announced in a white paper expected to be published in the near future.

Coun Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "This is a bold and exciting step towards a New Deal for Lancashire that will benefit every part of the county.

"We want to go to government with a strong and united voice and with an ambitious set of proposals which will have the power to transform our future. These plans ensure that everyone can have their say - and will have a voice.

"We’re building on the strong partnership working we already have and sending an important signal that we are serious about working together to deliver the best for Lancashire. It's in the interests of all our residents to work together for a New Deal for a Greater Lancashire which will bring with it additional powers, decision-making, and significant additional funding."

Coun Alistair Bradley, the leader of Chorley Council speaking on behalf of the county's borough and district councils, said: "As part of a County Deal we would expect to get extra money that can be spent in a way that works best for Lancashire.

"We are all currently working together to bring about transformational change for our county and ensure we secure additional funding that will ultimately lead to positive change."

Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “For too long, decisions that impact Lancashire have been made in London. Devolving funding and power to the most local level possible is absolutely the right thing to do.

“A strong Lancashire can ensure that the significant inequalities affecting our communities can be addressed and that the Levelling Up agenda truly delivers the investment in people and place that we need.”

Coun Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, added: “The progress being made to reform how we work collectively is positive. I’m deeply committed to working together across Lancashire to make sure services stay truly local as well as high quality. It’s got to be about what is better for the whole area, all of our places and people."

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