- Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young has signed a deal to grant more power to communities in Lancashire
- Powers and budgets will be devolved from central government to Lancashire through a new Combined County Authority
- More than £20m will be provided to Lancashire through the deal to invest in their local priorities.
- DLUHC delivers Levelling Up White Paper pledge to give greater power to towns and cities to support levelling up
An historic devolution deal putting greater power into the hands of local communities in Lancashire has been signed by the Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is delivering this landmark deal between Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
A total of £20m will be provided to Lancashire Combined County Authority along with a further £1m to support the authority in the early stages of the deal. The Adult Education Budget will also be devolved as part of the deal. The Combined County Authority is expected to be implemented in 2024 and be ready by 2025.
The Lancashire Level 2 devolution deal is one of a number of deals the Government has negotiated since setting out its commitment to English devolution in the Levelling Up White Paper. These deals represent significant progress towards achieving that commitment to extend, deepen and simplify devolution across England and make progress on the government’s Levelling Up White Paper local leadership mission: to ensure that, by 2030, every part of England that wants a devolution deal will have one. The deals announced at Autumn Statement mean that nearly 60% of England’s population are covered by a devolution deal, up from 40% when the Levelling Up White Paper was published.
Levelling Up Minister, Jacob Young, said:
“This marks a significant milestone as we finalise the Level 2 devolution agreement with Lancashire. This transformative deal is set to channel additional resources and authority away from Whitehall, empowering local communities.
In a region with a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, Lancashire’s prowess will be further harnessed through this arrangement, unlocking the full economic potential of the entire area.”
Key features of the deal for Lancashire deal:
- Formation of the Lancashire CCA, providing the overall vision and leadership to seek best value for taxpayers and accountability for local residents.
- Integration of the Lancashire LEP into the CCA thus ensuring a strong and independent local business input into the strategic economic planning undertaken by the formation of a Lancashire Business Board.
- Devolved powers to shape local skills provisions, including Adult Education functions and budget.
- Transport powers to help integrate transport decision making across the county to make it easier to plan strategically and improve services.
- New powers to utilise Compulsory Purchase to drive area-based regeneration and build more affordable homes.
- Up to £20 million of capital funding to support innovation led growth (including assets to maximise the benefits of National Cyber Force HQ) and net zero ambitions across Lancashire, subject to full business case approval.
The deal is subject to local consultation, ratification by the constituent councils, and parliamentary approval of the secondary legislation implementing the provisions of the deal.
Cllr Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said:
“The signing of this document is a hugely significant milestone for us and marks the start of a new beginning for Lancashire.
“We are hugely ambitious for our county and believe devolution will unlock so many more opportunities for our businesses and residents.
“Ensuring local decisions are made at a local level is absolutely key to what devolution is all about. Through this deal Whitehall will pass these powers to us in Lancashire, as well as the resources to make them happen.”
Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
“We’ve talked a lot about getting on the bus so we can start the journey to meaningful devolution. We have made that first step to accessing more funding and using local knowledge to benefit people in Blackburn, Darwen and wider Lancashire. This is something which can lead to real improvements over time.
“We have a strengths and opportunities across the whole of the county and by pulling together we can make the most of them.
“Just imagine how much more sense it will make to have transport which operates as one across Lancashire.
“At the Making Rooms in Blackburn we were able to demonstrate the impact of encouraging innovation and creativity. Projects like this will directly benefit from devolution.”
Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said:
“This is the start of something really significant for us. I’m pleased we have got this far, but this is just the beginning of our devolution journey.
“Lancashire needs devolution, we need a direct line to government and more power over how we deliver services that work for us locally. A ‘one size fits all approach’ does not work. The people of Blackpool will benefit from this crucial step forward and will see opportunities and improvements in things like adult learning and transport and infrastructure.
“I very much welcome this deal from government and look forward to what we can achieve in the future, always with the people of Blackpool and Lancashire at its heart”.
The government is already investing Levelling Up Funding to build pride in place in Lancashire, including:
- £40 million to Blackpool for the development of the Multiversity. A new carbon neutral university campus in Blackpool, placing the Talbot Gateway at the forefront of future innovation learning. In partnership with Blackpool and the Fylde College (B&FC) and Lancaster University.
- £6.5 million to Colne to transform their town centre, including creating a Heritage quarter with investment in three theatres – Colne Muni, Pendle Hippodrome and The Little Theatre, making them fully accessible to all members of the public. As well as improvements to the Market Hall and bus station, a new shopping area, and new housing and support for sustainable travel.
- £20 million to Accrington to give their town square a new lease of life which will see several buildings brought back into use, including the historic Market Hall which will be transformed into a modern food hall.
- £15.4 million to help to transform Blackpool town centre, improving traffic flow, access to public transport, and infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.
- £20 million to reinvigorate three central locations in Chorley town centre to address long-term decline. This will include funding for the Health and Wellbeing Hub, much-needed residential units within the town centre and a new town square to be used for community activities.
Blackpool is also benefitting from government support through a ‘deep dive’ which aims to identify and deliver a set of short and long-term interventions to help make a noticeable difference to people living in the area.
Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young signed the deal alongside the leaders of Lancashire during a special ceremony at Lancaster Castle.