Lancashire council leaders have agreed in principle to explore a combined authority for Lancashire. At a meeting of all Lancashire council leaders on Wednesday 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 a meeting of Lancashire council leaders on 10 June 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. 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 today 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 alongside improved governance arrangements in the future. Councillor Karen Buckley, acting Leader of Fylde Council stated ‘Previous discussions amongst council leaders in Lancashire to form a Combined Authority stalled as many were not keen on there being an elected Mayor. However, the Government’s appetite to ‘level up’ the country has brought the topic back front and centre. A white paper is keenly awaited in the Autumn to confirm Whitehall’s direction and in the meantime the agreement reached last week will enable us to explore all options to bring investment to Fylde.’