Council: We cannot support 'disappointing' devolution deal

By Tim Aldred

19 Jan 2024

south-ribble-borough-council-paul-foster.jpg

In an official statement, the leader of South Ribble Borough Council has announced that his council cannot support the proposed devolution deal in its current form and says that 'baffling' decisions have been made in regards to serving local communities.

The council held an extraordinary meeting where the proposals were considered, but along with budgetary concerns, it was felt they would be excluded from the proposed decision-making processes of the new combined authority.

Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: "The changing landscape of local authority governance in Lancashire is desperately important, and it is our duty as a council to make sure that any proposals for change are in the absolute best interest of South Ribble and its communities.

“I want to be clear that we are not against devolution in principle, and we recognise that devolution has the potential to secure significant benefits for Lancashire, encouraging strong economic growth and increased productivity, alongside better health and wellbeing and strengthened public services. 

“In our view, these benefits cannot be achieved through this proposal. It is baffling that the County Council has failed to recognise the vital role of district councils in understanding and representing local communities. 

“It is disappointing that we are at this stage when in 2022 we stood alongside the councils of Lancashire, including the County Council, and agreed an outline proposal for Greater Lancashire with fundamental principles for working together which included representation from all councils on any decision-making body. 

“The new proposals, which in our view will completely strip away decision making power from elected representatives who are best placed to understand the changing needs of their communities, are a far cry from our agreement in 2022, and with no prior consultation, opportunity for review or input from South Ribble Borough Council on the new plans, we absolutely in good faith cannot support."

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