Lancashire elected mayor plans agreed by local leaders

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Blackpool TowerImage source, Getty Images
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Lancashire does not have an elected mayor, unlike neighbouring regions

The leaders of all 15 local authorities in Lancashire have voted for "the principle" of an elected county mayor.

It is the first time that unanimity has been reached on creating a combined authority in the county, since discussions began four years ago.

The deal could hand Lancashire more powers and funds of at least £30m a year for 30 years.

Blackpool Council's leader said they were "closer to having a spokesperson who can make the case for the county".

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said: "We cannot allow Greater Manchester and Merseyside to continue to dominate the Northern Powerhouse and devolution agenda - and I'm delighted at the maturity of the approach now being taken."

'Wake up and smell the coffee'

Lancashire's authorities have been embroiled in an internal debate about the need for an elected mayor - a post usually required as part of a combined authority - for the past four years.

Some local officials expressed concern about whether they would be denied a veto under the new arrangements.

Mayors were elected in the neighbouring regions of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City region, as well as other English regions, in 2017.

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver said: "The messages that we're getting are that the government is seeing… a combined authority and a local government review as going hand in glove, because they see the need to simplify the local government structure."

Council leaders will seek advice from the Local Government Association after Westminster officials indicated a simplified council structure may be demanded, before the government would approve a combined authority and devolution deal for the county.

Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali urged colleagues to "to wake up and smell the coffee, because if we don't, we're going to fall further behind".

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