Plans to form a Lancashire Combined Authority may be back on track after the majority of the county’s council leaders agreed a way forward that could pave the way towards a devolution deal.
At the shadow Combined Authority meeting held this week representatives from all 15 councils heard how Central Government was now willing to consider a devolution deal without a mayor.
A small number of councils had previously pulled out of negotiations, in part due to the requirement of an elected mayor, but the latest development means they may reconsider their position once they have more information.
Chair of the shadow Combined Authority, Councillor Simon Blackburn, said: “We held a very positive meeting with all 15 of the Lancashire councils and there was a commitment from everyone to see what a devolution deal without a mayor would look like.
“We all agreed that it is better for everyone in Lancashire if we work together and speak with one voice.
“We want to see more investment in our region benefitting the people of Lancashire providing better homes, more jobs and improvements to our infrastructure.”
The commitment to pursuing combined authority deals without a mayor was outlined in the Conservative party manifesto ahead of this year’s general election.
The desire to see Lancashire councils working closer together was outlined in a letter to Councillor Blackburn from Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry.
The minister followed that up by saying a devolution deal without a mayor was very much on the table in a recent visit to the county when he spoke with Councillor Blackburn.
“It’s been a frustrating 10 months waiting for the Government to give us some clarity on which direction they want us to go but now we have an option that all the Lancashire councils could be willing to consider,” said Councillor Blackburn.
“With positive discussions having taken place I’ll be writing to the Secretary of State to request more detail as to what a devolution deal without an elected mayor would mean so we can get more information to all the councils as soon as possible.
“It’s important the Government get back to us in a timely manner so we can get a decision from councils as to whether a combined authority without an elected mayor would be a model that they would want to pursue.”
Once more detail on the devolution deal are provided by Central Government each council will take a decision on whether it wants to progress.