Councils seek business input on devolution deal

By Tim Aldred

04 Dec 2023

Lancashire Devolution Signing

With a new combined authority for Lancashire on the horizon, the county's businesses and residents are being invited to have their say on how the new devolved powers should be used.

A consultation, organised by Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council, will run for eight weeks until January 26.

Views will be sought on a range of issues including improving public transport, boosting economic prosperity, improving employment and skills, net zero and climate change, culture and tourism, and digital and cyber.

The proposals, if implemented, would see control of existing funding and powers move from central government to Lancashire.

The deal aims to give Lancashire a stronger voice on the regional and national stage, ensuring the county does not miss out on vital funding and other opportunities.

It would not require any changes to the established county, borough, or district councils across the area, who will continue to deliver services such as bin collections and local libraries.

It would also not require an elected mayor, as the CCA would be made up of existing elected councillors, or require an extra charge on council tax.

Coun Phillippa Williamson, leader of the county council, said: "This is about shaping the future of Lancashire for many years to come, and ensuring we are able to make local decisions to benefit all who live and work here.

“I truly believe the time is now for us to use this opportunity to secure more investment and deliver better outcomes for our local communities, but it is important everyone is able to contribute and give their view.”

Coun Phil Riley, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Lancashire is losing ground to other economies in the North West and it is now surrounded by combined authorities with devolution deals.

"There is a need for change - and devolution provides that opportunity for change and to make sure our businesses and economy grow, directly benefiting the people we serve.

“Devolution is a journey and not a one off event – Greater Manchester is on its 7th devolution deal. There is no plan B other than to wait potentially years for another opportunity from another Government to come around and continue to have decisions made about important local issues being made in London."

Coun Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council said: "This deal is important in terms of what it can bring now but also in the future. We will have much more control over adult skills and will be able to upskill our workforce. This in turn will affect our ability to attract inward investment and really make the most of it.

“The competition for investment is not within Lancashire itself but other parts of the country and so we in Lancashire need to work together. If devolution does not go ahead it is likely to mean Lancashire and therefore Blackpool could get left behind compared to other areas who benefit from devolution." 

To take part in the consultation visit https://lancashiredevolution.co.uk/consultation/

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