Lancashire devolution deal for county combined authority is 'bad for Burnley' says Labour leader

The leader of the Burnley Labour group has revealed he is angry over Lancashire’s proposed devolution deal which he said would be bad for Burnley.
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Coun. Mark Townsend reacted as news broke that the proposed had significant support from the business community across the county.

But the Labour leader on Burnley Borough Council said the council had been “misled” over the proposed terms which would finally see the county secure some new powers and additional cash from Whitehall.

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Coun. Townsend said: “The results of the consultation in Burnley clearly shows that there is no appetite for devolution on the basis of the deal being offered. It is a poor deal for Burnley and the people who responded have made that clear.

Burnley Labour leader Coun. Mark Townsend says proposed devolution deal for Lancashire is 'bad for Burnley'Burnley Labour leader Coun. Mark Townsend says proposed devolution deal for Lancashire is 'bad for Burnley'
Burnley Labour leader Coun. Mark Townsend says proposed devolution deal for Lancashire is 'bad for Burnley'

“I’m angry that Burnley Council was misled at its January meeting when the leader of the council (Coun. Afrasiab Anwar) said that he had been listening to residents and business. This obviously wasn’t true and the council weren’t listening and are completely out of step with the residents whose views they should be representing.

“I now call on the three upper-tier councils to listen to the people of Burnley and produce a new set of plans that will address the serious concerns of Burnley residents.”

The Burnley Express has contacted Coun. Anwar for a comment.

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The trio – Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council – signed up to a so-called level 2 deal - out of a possible three - with the government back in November, subject to the now completed consultation and the necessary legislation passing through Parliament.

It will see Lancashire handed control of the adult education budget for the county, some strategic transport and compulsory purchase order powers and £20m for investment in “innovation” projects linked to carbon reduction schemes and the arrival of the National Cyber Force HQ in Samlesbury in 2025.

However, it drew criticism from some of Lancashire’s 12 district authorities for, as they claimed, lacking in ambition and failing to properly involve the second-tier councils in the process of drawing up the deal and in its eventual operation.

The agreement will now go back to the government, with some minor tweaks to reflect the consultation responses.