Lancashire

Lancashire devolution deal hits snag as Fylde Council leader withdraws backing

Blackpool Tower Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lancashire - made up of one county council, two unitary authorities and 12 smaller councils - has not yet secured a devolution deal

A council intends to withdraw its support for proposed devolution in Lancashire, its leader said.

Susan Fazackerley, leader of Fylde Council, said the ruling Conservative group had decided there was not enough to be gained from the mooted deal.

All of Lancashire's councils apart from Wyre last year threw their support behind the bid to gain more powers.

A government spokesman said that while Fylde Council's decision does not make a deal impossible it makes it harder.

Devolution deals "can only be granted to a functioning economic area", said the spokesman who went on to say "the moment we start carving bits up that becomes more difficult".

Under proposals being considered by the government, Lancashire plans to take powers from Westminster.

It would see the county make its own decisions on things like transport, housing, and parts of education.

There would also be a multimillion-pound investment fund and the introduction of an elected mayor.

The decision will have to be formally rubber-stamped by Fylde Council in the coming weeks.

The original proposed devolution deal would have seen 15 councils join forces.

They are: Lancashire County Council; Blackpool Council; Blackburn with Darwen Council; Burnley Borough Council; Rossendale Borough Council; Hyndburn Borough Council; Pendle Borough Council; Fylde Borough Council; Chorley Council; Preston City Council; Ribble Valley Borough Council; West Lancashire Borough Council; Lancaster City Council; South Ribble Borough Council; and Wyre Borough Council.

North West neighbours Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region will elect their respective metro mayors in May.


Analysis

It was easy for Greater Manchester to blaze the devolution trail.

Ten councils with established political links literally surround one city, which most people look to as their urban centre.

But what about Lancashire? Its "focal point" could be Preston, Lancaster... even sunny Blackpool.

Without a centre, some say their devolution dream was doomed from the start.

When Wyre decided it didn't want to be part of the devolution bid, the government said that wasn't a deal breaker.

But that could well change if Fylde pulls out and others follow - which they might.

The cracks are down party lines, with Conservative councils going cold on former Chancellor George Osborne's baby.

These are wealthier boroughs than some of their neighbours, and have more to lose by change.

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