Devolution supported in public consultation

Plans for an historic devolution deal to bring extra powers and money to Lancashire have received support in a public consultation.

The eight-week consultation, which ended in January, asked residents, businesses and other stakeholders to give their views on the proposed deal.

If the proposal is implemented, existing funding and powers would move from central government to Lancashire through the creation of a Combined County Authority (CCA).

The deal aims to give local voices a greater role in decision-making, securing more investment and deliver better outcomes for Lancashire communities.

It would not mean removing or merging existing councils.

A total of 1,881 responses were received during the consultation, with 1,695 being received from individuals.

In total 186 responses came from businesses and representative groups, including a number from key organisations and large employers who supported the deal.

The number of responses received are similar to public consultations undertaken for devolution deals in other areas.

Feedback saw the majority of respondents welcome the proposal which focuses on eight priorities: Innovation, Trade and Investment, Skills, Transport, Net Zero and Climate Change, Digital and Cyber, Culture and Tourism, Housing and Land, and Delivering Our Ambitions.

Many said it was a positive first step on what is anticipated to be an ambitious devolution journey, while others said the opportunity was too significant to be missed.

Some concerns were raised, including worries about  proposed delivery arrangements.

All comments received have now been reviewed to help shape the proposal document.

The overall positive reaction has been welcomed by the leaders of Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council, the authorities which would form the CCA.

Councillor Phillippa Williamson, leader of the county council, said: "The findings from this consultation make it clear that there is a strong appetite for devolution in Lancashire.

"We have had a significant amount of positive feedback, with respondents making it clear that they too believe the time is now for us to take this opportunity to improve people's lives.

"We are hugely ambitious for our county and believe devolution will unlock so many more opportunities for our businesses and residents.

"I would like to thank all those who took the time to take part and reassure everyone that we have carefully considered all the comments made and adjusted the proposal document accordingly."

Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I want to thank everyone who took the time to have their say in the online consultation or who came to one of our events.

“There is a need for change – and devolution provides that opportunity and to make sure Lancashire businesses and the economy grow, directly benefiting the people we serve.

Lancashire is losing ground to other economies in the North West and is now surrounded by combined authorities with devolution deals so I am pleased the consultation showed strong support and appetite for the deal.” 

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council said: “It’s encouraging to know that people in Lancashire and Blackpool are supportive of the devolution deal and recognise its importance and the opportunities it presents.

“We have had responses to the consultation from not only the general public but also from businesses, both small and large, key representatives in our communities and key organisations across the county.

“Starting this journey towards devolution is incredibly important. I believe the timing is right to take this next step and I very much look forward to working with colleagues across Lancashire to provide better transport, training and skills opportunities, housing and all our other shared priorities.

“Many thanks to all who took the time to respond to our consultation”.

The results will now be discussed by members of Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council at meetings of their Full Council.

Members will then decide on whether to move forward to the next stage of the devolution process.

Should they all agree to proceed with the plans the findings will be presented to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to consider laying an order in Parliament to establish the new combined authority.

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