No Devolution For Lancashire?

 The BBC reports that devolution plans in Lancashire have collapsed after four councils refused to seek more autonomy for the county. Lancashire County Council (LCC) has now joined fellow Conservative-controlled authorities in Fylde, Wyre, and Ribble Valley in withdrawing from the process. LCC leader Cllr Driver said any attempt by the remaining 11 councils to press ahead would be “pointless”.

Many business leaders have warned that ditching devolution would be a missed opportunity for the county. Devolution would see the county make its own decisions on transport, housing, and parts of education. But, after two years of trying to make things work, the relationship between the 15 councils has fallen apart.

Chorley Council leader and vice-chair of the Shadow Combined Authority, Labour’s Alistair Bradley, accused some councils of “making excuses” for not taking part said “We need to go with the majority view and the minority can’t wreck the process.” But, six months after celebrating taking control of the county council, Conservative Driver said any such attempt “would fall at the first hurdle – and the first hurdle is that every local authority has to agree to it. We must move forward together, we must have a say in the Northern Powerhouse and that’s what we intend to do.”

Business leaders are now worried Lancashire risks falling behind devolved areas like Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region. East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Miranda Barker said ditching devolution was a “missed opportunity” and added “The majority of our business and income comes from manufacturing. The government needs to realise that investment here will reap benefits for the whole of the country.”

4 thoughts on “No Devolution For Lancashire?”

  1. This combined authority stuff was always built on shaky foundations with top down control of the structures required. Look at how little West Lancashire has got out of the LEP. We’d have been ignored if this had gone ahead.
    Mind you, you could ask Cllrs O’Toole, Pope and Barron their views as they all supported the plans when voted on at Borough level but presumably have to have a split personality at LCC.

  2. Further to the above, again, the situation is far from hopeless. The Lancashire CA was always on a shaky footing with the process happened by a distinctly luke warm – to hostile attitude of some of the constituent Tory led Councils, whom you would have thought might give their support to their own government but no, they seem more hell bent on self destruction and infighting rather than think of what is the best for the people of Lancashire.
    In regard to West Lancs, the Labour Administration very wisely hedged our bets by becoming Associate Members of the Liverpool City Region with a place on the Housing and Strategic Planning Board and we have had regular input since joining. West Lancs is ideally placed as a ‘gateway’ to LCR and the Superport which will bring vital investment and jobs into the region. Very often it is vitally important to be in the right place at the right time and with our strong leadership West Lancs is exactly there!

    Cllr. JE Hodson
    Portfolio for Planning

    1. I’ve long held the view that the Liverpool City Region was the place to be for us. I’ve often read the reports on WLBC staff and elected members being there. I’ve asked for the West Lancashire elderly and disabled people to be included in the Merseyrail off peak train concession, to no avail. The Tory party gave away the WLBC travel concession to the LCC and that was the end of it, and then social exclusion for villages! So what’s happened on a concession since Labour took over WLBC? Nothing, and still trains run virtually empty from Maghull to Ormskirk. I met Liam Robinson with Jim Burgess of the Older People’s Forum at Rosie Cooper’s office and suggested an opportunity for us to pay the profit per seat per journey on production of our English National Bus Pass, the one we all have but no buses! There would be no costs, just more money for Merseyrail. They turned us down. So when will the time be right for us, elderly and disabled, to become associate train travellers? How does “Housing and Strategy Planning” help the pensioners who pay full fare unless they pay for a “Railcard”! It’s discrimination against West Lancashire residents who see massive public subsidies paid to Merseyrail while its profits go overseas to foreign shareholders!

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