Council leaders have made a historic pledge to work together to deliver a bold vision for a County Deal to benefit the people of Lancashire.
For months, all 15 of the council leaders who make up Greater Lancashire have been working in close collaboration to develop a set of ambitious and forward-thinking proposals. If adopted they would represent a New Deal for a Greater Lancashire across a range of areas including the economy, transport, jobs, skills and the environment.
And, in a dramatic demonstration of cooperation, each of the councils that make up Greater Lancashire – Lancashire County Council, the 12 district councils, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council – are to consider setting up a new formal body to help drive cooperation to the next level to help secure a deal with government.
In July 2021, as part of its levelling up plans the government announced it would introduce County Deals as part of its devolution plans, with the aim of transferring powers from Whitehall to local areas.
Now, as we await the much-anticipated levelling up White Paper from government, Lancashire’s political leaders are seizing the initiative to drive forward a bold set of proposals which will be considered by all 15 councils in the coming weeks.
Councillor David Henderson, Leader of Wyre Council has said, “I am pleased that these discussions and meetings are now coming to fruition. The next step for Wyre will be to take this to our next Full Council meeting on 27 January before approaching government with the proposal to take the County Deal forward.
"This is not about merging or abolishing councils, it is the next step in trying to devolve decision making from central government to local government along with the benefits for Lancashire that this will bring.”
Lancashire County Council leader Councillor Phillippa Williamson said: "This is a bold and exciting step towards a New Deal for Lancashire that will benefit every part of the county.
"We want to go to government with a strong and united voice and with an ambitious set of proposals which will have the power to transform our future. These plans ensure that everyone can have their say - and will have a voice.
"We’re building on the strong partnership working we already have and sending an important signal that we are serious about working together to deliver the best for Lancashire.
"It's in the interests of all our residents to work together for a New Deal for a Greater Lancashire which will bring with it additional powers, decision-making, and significant additional funding.
“These proposals will now go to each of our councils so that elected members can make the final decision.”
Councillor Alistair Bradley, the leader of Chorley Council speaking on behalf of the county's borough and district councils, said: "As part of a County Deal we would expect to get extra money that can be spent in a way that works best for Lancashire.
"We are all currently working together to bring about transformational change for our county and ensure we secure additional funding that will ultimately lead to positive change."
Councillor Mohammed Khan CBE, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “The progress being made to reform how we work collectively is positive. I’m deeply committed to working together across Lancashire to make sure services stay truly local as well as high quality. It’s got to be about what is better for the whole area, all of our places and people.
“It’s essential that we have a united voice to give us greater influence with Government to access much needed resources to directly benefit the people we serve. We can only do this effectively by unlocking the powers and funding to tackle the issues and inequalities we know we have here which have been brought into sharp relief by Covid.”
Councillor Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “For too long, decisions that impact Lancashire have been made in London. Devolving funding and power to the most local level possible is absolutely the right thing to do.
“A strong Lancashire can ensure that the significant inequalities affecting our communities can be addressed and that the Levelling Up agenda truly delivers the investment in people and place that we need.”
All 15 councils that comprise Greater Lancashire will discuss these proposals at full council meetings in the coming weeks, where they will be asked to agree a joint report.