AS the government considers the future of local government, the leader of West Lancashire Borough Council has welcomed a report which highlights the valuable work of district councils.
One of the options that the government is looking at in its devolution and recovery white paper is to increase the number of larger unitary councils covering a wider area.
In anticipation of the launch of the government’s devolution and recovery white paper this month and following the pre-emptive bids by some county councils for unitaries covering their own council footprints, the District Councils' Network (DCN) has launched a new report offering its own alternatives.
In ‘Power in Place: Devolution and districts driving our recovery’ the DCN highlights the enormous contributions councils like West Lancs make to their communities.
It says devolution should back the success of districts in delivery rather than re-organising into larger authorities.
The report also claims that on average a single county unitary council would be 4.5 times less representative of local communities than existing unitary councils and five times larger than the current average for all councils in England.
These councils would be larger than any found across the whole of Europe.
Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, said: "This is a great report which highlights the huge amount of work we do and shows how we are best placed to do this for our communities.
“The plans to abolish district councils in favour of county unitaries are centralisation, not devolution, and would create a ‘postcode lottery’ in the value of each vote.
“We have agreed in principle to explore a Lancashire Combined Authority with other Lancashire councils. This would allow districts to work more closely together in a structured way and help improve economic development, skills and transport to benefit the whole county.”
The Champion reported last month how West Lancashire Borough Council could be abolished along with every other local authority in Lancashire and replaced with a combined authority complete with an elected mayor.
Lancashire County Council and its Leader Geoff Driver revealed the plan which, he says, represent a ‘once-in-a-generation’ chance to transform the county.
The county would be carved up into three ‘unitary’ councils covering central and southern parts of the county (Preston, South Ribble, Chorley and West Lancashire), a broad western and northern area (Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde, Lancaster and Ribble Valley) and the east (Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Rossendale, Hyndburn and Pendle).