Council pulls out of proposed combined authority

Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ken Hind
Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ken Hind

Councillors in the Ribble Valley have decided to pull out of the proposed Lancashire Combined Authority.

Members of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s policy and finance committee decided to pull out of the shadow authority after hearing it would require the election of a Lancashire mayor.

A combined authority is a legal body that allows councils to work together more closely and with greater accountability.

Ten out of Lancashire’s 12 district councils, Lancashire County Council and the county’s two unitary authorities – Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool – decided to form the combined authority last year following a public consultation.

Ribble Valley councillors across all parties voted in favour of taking the proposed combined authority to the next stage after hearing that its members would remain separate entities, but work together more effectively in transport, regeneration, economic growth, skills, housing and employment.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader, Ken Hind, said: “The shadow combined authority was a significant milestone in the process of collaborative working and it met on a number of occasions, with some good results.

“A number of meetings took place with ministers and civil servants, but progress has been slow and it has been made clear by the Government that any significant devolution deal will require agreement on an elected mayor for Lancashire. We made it clear that we wanted a vote and a say on transport issues, but the proposed constitution rejected our request, so we have decided to withdraw. Nor do we want an elected mayor for Lancashire – we want cooperation, not domination. On a positive note, there is certainly a willingness among Lancashire authorities to work together to improve the economic wellbeing of the county and a growing recognition that this collaboration can continue without a legally constituted combined authority. It has been proposed to have a Lancashire Local Authorities’ Group to cooperate on infrastructure projects, such as broadband. We welcome such an initiative and will willingly take part.”