No mayor for Lancashire

The dream of appointing a mayor for the whole of Lancashire has died.

County Coun John Fillis, Deputy leader of the county council's Labour group
County Coun John Fillis, Deputy leader of the county council's Labour group

But that does not mean there cannot be a new formal partnership between all of the county’s councils to improve services and transport links and boost regeneration.

That will be the message from leading Lancashire County Coun John Fillis when he tables a special motion at meeting of the county council on Thursday.

He says it is now time to drop any ambitions for a new mayor and heal rifts between councils.

County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council

The motion will end any speculation about support for appointing a mayor to lead a combined authority. It also recognises that the hopes of creating a viable combined authority has hit the rocks because of opposition from four district councils.

Coun Fillis, deputy leader of the Labour opposition group at county hall and the council’s former deputy leader, will call instead for a review of the current shadow Lancashire Combined Authority which does not have the support of the Tory led councils of Wyre, South Ribble, Fylde and Ribble Valley.

Fears Lancashire will lose out on key Government funding because it does not have a united voice, while Liverpool and Manchester reap the benefits of extra cash, have prompted the call for a rethink.

The mayoral role was first floated by the previous Tory Government, but Coun Fillis said: “The public does not want a mayor. Lancashire has a very strong heritage in local government that people can be proud of. No one will thank us for just another level of local government.”

County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council

He said his motion recognises the independence of councils, and talks must include all district councils, as well as the unitary councils of Blackburn and Blackpool: “A review of the combined authorities would enable the authorities involved to establish a round table partnership approach to working with the government for the benefit of Lancashire people.”

Council leader Geoff Driver said closer working across the public sector would be increasingly important in the future: "as we all work to continue to deliver crucial services in financially challenging circumstances."

He continued: "Increasing devolution, and working together as a combined authority, may well be a part of that picture but I would need to see exactly how the county council and Lancashire as a whole would benefit from it."