Bid for devolution put on hold for now

Plans for a Lancashire Combined Authority have been put on hold
Plans for a Lancashire Combined Authority have been put on hold
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Hopes of securing devolved powers for Lancashire look set to be put on the back burner for the timebeing.

It had been hoped to to create a countywide combined authority by this spring but the Government has not responded to requests to move forward with the proposals.

Following a meeting of the Shadow Lancashire Combined Authority on Wednesday, it has been decided to put the plans on hold until after the Lancashire County Council elections in May.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn, who chairs the shadow authority, said: “I remain hopeful we will get a positive response from the Government on this.

“However I think it is important we are realistic.

“My instincts tell me the Prime Minister, and therefore the Government, has gone cold on the idea of combined authorities and devolution.”

He added that although nothing had been officially confirmed on the future of the combined authority, it had been agreed to hold off for the timebeing.

But he said the 14 councils which made up the combined authority would continue to work together.

Coun Blackburn said: “I am absolutely passionately committed to the idea of working together across Lancashire, in the interests of the people of Lancashire in whatever format that is.

“If the Government has gone cold on the idea that’s no reason why we should give up on what is a very clear and sensible plan which has huge support from the public and the business community.

“I think working together and looking for efficiencies where they exist, and looking for service improvements where they can be created, is the right thing to do.”

For the past two years, 14 of the 15 councils which make up Lancashire have been meeting with a view to setting up a combined authority.

However Wyre Council has refused to take part from the start, with its council leader Peter Gibson saying there was no benefit to be gained.

Fylde Council has also indicated it may pull out of the proposals.