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Frustration grows as Lancashire awaits Government response

Published: Thursday, 23rd March 2017

Leaders in Lancashire are growing increasingly frustrated at the Government’s lack of response over progress to create a Lancashire Combined Authority.

A letter was written to Secretary of State Sajid Javid more than two months ago but despite receiving several acknowledgements the Lancashire councils are no clearer on what direction the Government wants them to take.

The body was due to be formally created at the start of April but a focus on Brexit and pushing through existing devolution deals has seemingly held up the process for Lancashire to the detriment of the county.

Councillor Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council and chair of the Shadow Combined Authority, said: “We’ve put a lot of work into getting the councils across Lancashire to work together and we are getting really frustrated at the delays.

“The lack of direction from Central Government has seen Fylde Council get cold feet over the process so we need to know sooner rather than later what the Government’s intentions are for Lancashire.

“We want to be treated and held in the same regard as other parts of the country and it’s about time we got some answers so we can be clear with our residents what the future holds.”

Fourteen of the 15 Lancashire councils, including Pendle Council, have been meeting on a monthly basis in shadow form since last summer.

A Lancashire Plan is being developed, which sets out the key priorities for the county, and it was expected that the formal Combined Authority would be created on 1 April.

The public body has seen a number of successes so far including gaining hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding aimed at making better use of public sector buildings.

“Despite the slow progress from Government we’ve been getting on with things and there is a real positivity among leaders that we can achieve great things for Lancashire,” said Councillor Blackburn.

“We’ve been able to make progress in shaping future improvements to transport links across the county and we are doing a lot of work to ensure the whole of the county is digitally connected, which is really important given the varying landscapes across the county.

“We will continue to press the Government for answers but in the meantime we will continue to work together to make sure Lancashire has a voice at Downing Street and is a key part of the Northern Powerhouse.”