Backing for East Lancs councils to merge into unitary authority

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A former Burnley MP has called for councils in East Lancashire to join and form one unitary authority.

The call was made by Mr Peter Pike in a bid to save cash in response to severe government cuts.

Mr Pike said: “I personally came to that view some 20 years ago and believe that a unitary authority for East Lancashire would make a very strong local government unit for the area.

“The county council is facing massive problems to meet the cuts being imposed by the Government and each of the six borough councils in East Lancashire are facing almost impossible demands to cut expenditure. These cuts being imposed by the Government are unrealistic and unfair.

“That said even aside from these financial issues the case for a unitary authority for East Lancashire is a very good and strong one.”

The town’s current MP Mr Gordon Birtwistle said he would back a unitary authority for East Lancashire.

“About four or five years ago the Lib-Dems put together a deal between Burnley and Pendle Councils to form a unitary authority but the then Labour Government rejected it. I think it would be a good idea.

“That deal with Pendle alone would have saved the council £3m. It would save money on the cost of running the council and free up more funding to deliver services.”

Burnley Council leader Coun. Julie Cooper said she had been exploring the possibility of working with other local councils for some services but said the process was in the very early stages.

And she dismissed the idea of having one unitary authority, saying it was important to preserve Burnley’s own unique identity.

“Going forward long term there probably will be more sharing. I would always be keen to keep the very individual strong identity of Burnley Council.

“Central government wants us to do as much together as possible to save money and I will speak to neighbouring authorities to look at what we can share.

“Burnley is my town and I’m really proud of that. We have been faced with impossible cuts but I will always put Burnley first.”