WEST Lancashire Council has come to an agreement with other local councils from across Lancashire to explore the creation of a combined authority.
At a meeting of all Lancashire council leaders, including West Lancs Council Leader Ian Moran, a unanimous decision was taken for the councils to work together more closely to improve the economy of Lancashire, addressing issues such as transport and inward investment.
At the meeting, councillors agreed that: “All councils in Lancashire agree to continue to explore the possibility of working together with our local authority partners to investigate setting up a combined authority to embrace the county’s future economic opportunities.”
The agreement needs to be ratified by each of the councils represented and will be subject to local democratic processes.
Other areas of the UK which have set up a combined authority have seen a boost to investment in the economy, infrastructure and skills.
County Councillor Geoff Driver, Leader of Lancashire County Council, stated: “The creation of a combined authority is a great opportunity for the whole of Lancashire. The principle has been positively endorsed by Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet."
Council leaders acknowledged that the delivery of local government functions may need to be simplified in the combined authority area. They have agreed to explore models of devolution and improved governance arrangements in the future.
Councillor Alyson Barnes, Leader of Rossendale Borough Council, and Chair of the District Leaders Forum, said: “Councils in Lancashire are keen to work together for the benefit of all our residents and businesses across Lancashire. The interest in a combined authority for Lancashire stems from the ability to access greater Government funding to assist the growth of businesses and stimulate the economy.”
Agreeing to set up a combined authority requires government approval. This agreement in Lancashire is the beginning of a process of negotiation with the government to set up the combined authority and the agreement of a ‘devolution deal’. A specific timeline for the establishment of the combined authority will be determined when the agreement of the ‘devolution deal’ becomes clearer in the coming months.