Lancashire devolution

Landmark devolution deal moves a step closer

A landmark devolution deal for Lancashire has moved a step closer after the Government’s Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison signalled her in principle support.

The deal if given final approval will transfer new money and powers from central government to a newly created Combined County Authority allowing them to tackle key local priorities such as better housing and public transport as well as helping to boost economic prosperity and improve employment and skills.

The intention is to ensure Lancashire is able to become the very best place possible to live, work, visit, study and invest.

Importantly, the deal would not require a change to the established democratic structures across the area or the need for an elected Mayor.

Last month, representatives from Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Blackpool Council met with Government officials to discuss the possibility of a deal and the creation of a combined county authority.

This would build on the enhanced collaborative work that has already been happening through the Lancashire 2050 framework, which is an undertaking to ensure all 15 Lancashire councils are aligned on key county-wide issues such as economic prosperity, skills and employment, transport and infrastructure, environment and climate, and housing quality.

Now Ms Davison has written to the three top tier councils to say she is supportive of a deal for Lancashire and is keen for officials to continue discussions with a view to potentially concluding a deal later this year.

Local partners will now work together to prepare a Final Business Case to present to Government for approval. The final deal would require local consent with the full agreement of the three constituent councils as well as Parliamentary approval.

Cllr Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "This is a really important step forward and I am pleased that the Government has faith in our vision for the future of our county.

"Together with leaders in Blackburn and Blackpool, as well as colleagues at the county's district councils, I want to improve the life chances of every person who lives, works and studies in Lancashire.

"We believe the best way to do this is to allow important decisions about Lancashire to be made right here in Lancashire.

"We know first-hand what problems we face as well as the huge potential our county has. We also know we have a great opportunity right now through devolution to bring in millions of extra pounds in investment and support which will ensure a better future for all.

"I very much look forward to working on the business case with colleagues across the summer to ensure we get a great deal for Lancashire."

Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Now that our devolution journey has begun,  I really hope Government prioritises Lancashire. Our residents deserve the very best and this can only help us deliver on our ambitions.”

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council said: “I am pleased we are moving closer to a first devolution deal for Lancashire. Getting over the start line on devolution will allow us to access additional funding and support from national Government and decide how this is used locally to tackle local issues and opportunities for the good of the people of Blackpool and Lancashire.

 “We have shared priorities across Lancashire which are articulated in our 2050 vision. I look forward to further conversations with our partners in Lancashire and Government about how we can turn these shared priorities into reality, and deliver more of the things our residents and businesses need”.

Notes to editors

Under Government rules, only top-tier councils can be members of a Combined County Authority. In Lancashire’s case, this would be Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Blackpool Council. District Councils however will be fully engaged in the process and there is a commitment that they will have a voice in any new combined authority.