Lancashire TelegraphSix East Lancashire councils should merge, says top Tory (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Six East Lancashire councils should merge, says top Tory

SIX East Lancashire councils should merge into a single all-purpose authority to save cash, Blackburn with Darwen Tory group leader Mike Lee has proposed.

He is writing to local government secretary Eric Pickles seeking government backing for the plan which he believes could save millions.

His blueprint to amalgamate Ribble Valley, Burnley, Hyndburn, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Rossendale into a single unitary authority has had a mixed reaction.

Lancashire County Council would be split in half under the plan. Its leader, Geoff Driver, said the plan was not an option while Burnley council Labour leader Julie Cooper said it would be ‘deeply unpopular’ in her borough.

Coun Lee revealed his plan at a meeting of Blackburn with Darwen’s full council forum discussing the ruling Labour group’s £30 million cuts programme. Senior Labour man Dave Harling branded it ‘a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale’.

Coun Lee said: “We need to consider whether a move towards a larger Pennine Lancashire unitary authority is something we need consider. The savings generated would help support front line services.

“We need to drive a unitary authority across the six council in Penne Lancashire.”

Coun Driver said: “The Government has made it clear, as recently as this last week, that local government reorganisation is simply not on their agenda.”

Coun Cooper said: “I don’t think this would go down well in Burnley. It would be deeply unpopular in the town.” Pendle council’s Tory leader Joe Cooney said it was ‘an option worth looking at’ depending on the detail.

Burnley Liberal Democrat Leader Gordon Birtwistle said: “I think this would be sensible. It could save millions of pounds.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “I think there is a very strong case for one or two unitary authorities in East Lancashire. However the county council would strongly oppose any such moves.”

Blackburn with Darwen council’s Labour leader Kate Hollern said: “This is a good idea. It would have my full support.”

Local government minister Brandon Lewis said the coalition scrapped plans for top-down unitary local government restructuring as it would have been expensive and disruptive.

Comments (28)

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2:12pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Noiticer says...

At last, a councillor is speaking sense but what political advantage does he see for his party? NE Lancs has to have one authority to have the clout to stand up to the big authorities to the south of the region. And whilst we are talking larger autyhorities, we also need a Northern Assembly to challenge London and the SE.
At last, a councillor is speaking sense but what political advantage does he see for his party? NE Lancs has to have one authority to have the clout to stand up to the big authorities to the south of the region. And whilst we are talking larger autyhorities, we also need a Northern Assembly to challenge London and the SE. Noiticer
  • Score: 0

2:25pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Shirley Bassey says...

Noiticer wrote:
At last, a councillor is speaking sense but what political advantage does he see for his party? NE Lancs has to have one authority to have the clout to stand up to the big authorities to the south of the region. And whilst we are talking larger autyhorities, we also need a Northern Assembly to challenge London and the SE.
Why does it have to be for political advantage of his own party - maybe Councillor Lee is considering what's best for the area and residents. You're right though, if Blackburn and the neighbouring authorities in East Lancs want to compete with the likes of Manchester and Liverpool they need to come together as one authority rather than fighting for the scraps.
[quote][p][bold]Noiticer[/bold] wrote: At last, a councillor is speaking sense but what political advantage does he see for his party? NE Lancs has to have one authority to have the clout to stand up to the big authorities to the south of the region. And whilst we are talking larger autyhorities, we also need a Northern Assembly to challenge London and the SE.[/p][/quote]Why does it have to be for political advantage of his own party - maybe Councillor Lee is considering what's best for the area and residents. You're right though, if Blackburn and the neighbouring authorities in East Lancs want to compete with the likes of Manchester and Liverpool they need to come together as one authority rather than fighting for the scraps. Shirley Bassey
  • Score: 0

2:43pm Mon 4 Feb 13

sim1846 says...

I fully Agree with the PM on this, East Lancashire keeps getting knocked back by LCC, on a number of key projects, they are only interested in Preston City Region, and I know of in fighting with local councils, both Pendle council and from what i understand even Blackpool don't get along, with those in power at LCC, they seem to want it all there own way, Look at the study in to the A56 Bypass for Colne no one really wants this project apart from the Planning officers of LCC, this project isn't going to benefit 100% of the population, the only project to do this is the Colne to Skipton Rail Line reopening, which will be cheaper to.

6.5 miles of new Road costing about £90 Million, where as the rail project with double track and two new stations and upgrading of all the stations from Colne to Burnley Gannow junction costing £100 Million, giving Access to All, and will generate fare more jobs than any new road could..

LCC officers wont even give this rail project the time of day, even when questioned by Simon Burns MP / Minister, and part of the funding is their, be it once we have the GRIP 3 study out of the way, strange on how LCC can come up with 100,000 for the road project but no funds for the Rail project study.

LCC Planning Officers you are on a knife edge here, You need sacking, and those County Councilors need to get a grip, 6 out of the 7 Cabinet members of LCC are members of SELRAP, you should be giving this rail project your 110 % backing, instead of being fed like a baby from your planning officers.
I fully Agree with the PM on this, East Lancashire keeps getting knocked back by LCC, on a number of key projects, they are only interested in Preston City Region, and I know of in fighting with local councils, both Pendle council and from what i understand even Blackpool don't get along, with those in power at LCC, they seem to want it all there own way, Look at the study in to the A56 Bypass for Colne no one really wants this project apart from the Planning officers of LCC, this project isn't going to benefit 100% of the population, the only project to do this is the Colne to Skipton Rail Line reopening, which will be cheaper to. 6.5 miles of new Road costing about £90 Million, where as the rail project with double track and two new stations and upgrading of all the stations from Colne to Burnley Gannow junction costing £100 Million, giving Access to All, and will generate fare more jobs than any new road could.. LCC officers wont even give this rail project the time of day, even when questioned by Simon Burns MP / Minister, and part of the funding is their, be it once we have the GRIP 3 study out of the way, strange on how LCC can come up with 100,000 for the road project but no funds for the Rail project study. LCC Planning Officers you are on a knife edge here, You need sacking, and those County Councilors need to get a grip, 6 out of the 7 Cabinet members of LCC are members of SELRAP, you should be giving this rail project your 110 % backing, instead of being fed like a baby from your planning officers. sim1846
  • Score: 0

2:50pm Mon 4 Feb 13

mattscott21 says...

Interesting that reps from all three main political parties are supporting this, it’s an absolute no brainer really. I’m all for local democracy but we have over 250 councillors in east lancs! that’s costing us almost £2m a year – not to mention 6 local authority chief execs earning well over £100k a year each. That’s before you staring looking at directors of HR, finance, planning etc… this could save millions and protect vital front line service

I wouldn’t hold your breath though, turkeys don’t vote for chrismas!

It needs the local MPs to show some leadership and come together to push this through.
Interesting that reps from all three main political parties are supporting this, it’s an absolute no brainer really. I’m all for local democracy but we have over 250 councillors in east lancs! that’s costing us almost £2m a year – not to mention 6 local authority chief execs earning well over £100k a year each. That’s before you staring looking at directors of HR, finance, planning etc… this could save millions and protect vital front line service I wouldn’t hold your breath though, turkeys don’t vote for chrismas! It needs the local MPs to show some leadership and come together to push this through. mattscott21
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Mon 4 Feb 13

blylad says...

Where would this new council be based? No doubt in Blackburn, the largest town which would mean jobs in Burnley, Pendle etc.. moving, that'll go down like a lead balloon! Why would a large town like Burnley, with over 75,000 inhabitants in the town alone, be happy handing power to Blackburn?
Where would this new council be based? No doubt in Blackburn, the largest town which would mean jobs in Burnley, Pendle etc.. moving, that'll go down like a lead balloon! Why would a large town like Burnley, with over 75,000 inhabitants in the town alone, be happy handing power to Blackburn? blylad
  • Score: 0

2:55pm Mon 4 Feb 13

midas says...

The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley.
.
The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.
The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body. midas
  • Score: 0

2:59pm Mon 4 Feb 13

blylad says...

midas wrote:
The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley.
.
The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.
Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."
[quote][p][bold]midas[/bold] wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.[/p][/quote]Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys." blylad
  • Score: 0

3:05pm Mon 4 Feb 13

mattscott21 says...

blylad wrote:
midas wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.
Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."
Accrington it is then! to be fair anything must better than Preston, which is where we're currently run from!
[quote][p][bold]blylad[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]midas[/bold] wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.[/p][/quote]Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."[/p][/quote]Accrington it is then! to be fair anything must better than Preston, which is where we're currently run from! mattscott21
  • Score: 0

3:13pm Mon 4 Feb 13

sharonAccy says...

mattscott21 wrote:
blylad wrote:
midas wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.
Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."
Accrington it is then! to be fair anything must better than Preston, which is where we're currently run from!
Accrington gets my vote, besides Hyndburn council aren't doing too bad a job
[quote][p][bold]mattscott21[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]blylad[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]midas[/bold] wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.[/p][/quote]Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."[/p][/quote]Accrington it is then! to be fair anything must better than Preston, which is where we're currently run from![/p][/quote]Accrington gets my vote, besides Hyndburn council aren't doing too bad a job sharonAccy
  • Score: 0

3:21pm Mon 4 Feb 13

blylad says...

sharonAccy wrote:
mattscott21 wrote:
blylad wrote:
midas wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.
Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."
Accrington it is then! to be fair anything must better than Preston, which is where we're currently run from!
Accrington gets my vote, besides Hyndburn council aren't doing too bad a job
Accrington is mid-way between its big brothers, it's easily accessible and Hyndburn is the only district that is completely surrounded by other East Lancs districts, no-brainer really, and I'm from Burnley!
[quote][p][bold]sharonAccy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mattscott21[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]blylad[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]midas[/bold] wrote: The central town, and therefore the obvious choice, would be to have the East Lancs Council based in Burnley. . The other areas could have a smaller role, perhaps akin to the Darwen Council, to feed back to the main body.[/p][/quote]Brilliant idea! Although I'd guess that Accrington is the central town, and it being the East Lancs capital would stop any bickering between the two "big boys."[/p][/quote]Accrington it is then! to be fair anything must better than Preston, which is where we're currently run from![/p][/quote]Accrington gets my vote, besides Hyndburn council aren't doing too bad a job[/p][/quote]Accrington is mid-way between its big brothers, it's easily accessible and Hyndburn is the only district that is completely surrounded by other East Lancs districts, no-brainer really, and I'm from Burnley! blylad
  • Score: 0

3:41pm Mon 4 Feb 13

oldblue says...

Sounds like an excellent, long overdue, idea to me.It will save millions and give this area the additional clout that it desperately needs.I fear it is unlikely to happen though. Too many little fiefdoms and too much vested interest.
Sounds like an excellent, long overdue, idea to me.It will save millions and give this area the additional clout that it desperately needs.I fear it is unlikely to happen though. Too many little fiefdoms and too much vested interest. oldblue
  • Score: 0

3:43pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Yankee Clipper says...

It's a very good idea which should be explored further, yet hardly a new one. Former BwDBC chief executive Graham Burgess made this very same budget-saving and consolidation of public services proposal a few years ago under the "Pennine Lancashire" consortium umbrella. The only politicians who would be against exploring such a proposal would be those who feared losing any (actual or imaginary) power base. There are already far too many elected members than is actually necessary in the overly-bloated local council chambers.
It's a very good idea which should be explored further, yet hardly a new one. Former BwDBC chief executive Graham Burgess made this very same budget-saving and consolidation of public services proposal a few years ago under the "Pennine Lancashire" consortium umbrella. The only politicians who would be against exploring such a proposal would be those who feared losing any (actual or imaginary) power base. There are already far too many elected members than is actually necessary in the overly-bloated local council chambers. Yankee Clipper
  • Score: 0

3:49pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Mothernature says...

Gets my vote. Maybe we should have a referendum and let the folks of East Lancs decide. Much better than a bunch of coucillors deciding what is best for us folks.
Gets my vote. Maybe we should have a referendum and let the folks of East Lancs decide. Much better than a bunch of coucillors deciding what is best for us folks. Mothernature
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Mothernature says...

should be councillors
should be councillors Mothernature
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Izanears says...

I would have no objection to Pendle joining with Burnley, but not Hyndburn or Blackburn. All that would happen if they all joined up would be another County Council, and heaven only knows they don't give a monkeys about Pendle.
I would have no objection to Pendle joining with Burnley, but not Hyndburn or Blackburn. All that would happen if they all joined up would be another County Council, and heaven only knows they don't give a monkeys about Pendle. Izanears
  • Score: 0

4:37pm Mon 4 Feb 13

mavrick says...

This is a rehash of an old idea that was first brought about in 1974, The failure of councillors of all councils and weak government at the time, led to the mish mash of councils we have now. The talk of an east lancs authority seemed to attract career politicians and the role of the local councillor was squeezed out. I remember quotations at the time saying big is not best. there is some truth in both suggestions. Perhaps a northern assembly with representatives from each district forwarding strategic policies for the betterment of the area would be better.This would cost money but this would be partially offset in the removal of the county structure and councillors. Many of the county functions can be passed to local authorities seamlessly. this would leave the assembly to deal with the bigger projects based on the needs of the local areas represented. The big question is, Will the politicians go for it ?
This is a rehash of an old idea that was first brought about in 1974, The failure of councillors of all councils and weak government at the time, led to the mish mash of councils we have now. The talk of an east lancs authority seemed to attract career politicians and the role of the local councillor was squeezed out. I remember quotations at the time saying big is not best. there is some truth in both suggestions. Perhaps a northern assembly with representatives from each district forwarding strategic policies for the betterment of the area would be better.This would cost money but this would be partially offset in the removal of the county structure and councillors. Many of the county functions can be passed to local authorities seamlessly. this would leave the assembly to deal with the bigger projects based on the needs of the local areas represented. The big question is, Will the politicians go for it ? mavrick
  • Score: 0

5:20pm Mon 4 Feb 13

MerlinTheVoiceofReason2 says...

Cheshire County Council was abolished and 2 new Unitary Authorities, Cheshire East and West established, in addition to the existing UAs Warrington and Halton. Similar could be done in Lancs - perhaps 4 UAs, Pennine Lancs, North Lancs, West & Central Lancs (Preston, Chorley, Leyland, Ormskirk, Tarleton areas) and Fylde.
Cheshire County Council was abolished and 2 new Unitary Authorities, Cheshire East and West established, in addition to the existing UAs Warrington and Halton. Similar could be done in Lancs - perhaps 4 UAs, Pennine Lancs, North Lancs, West & Central Lancs (Preston, Chorley, Leyland, Ormskirk, Tarleton areas) and Fylde. MerlinTheVoiceofReason2
  • Score: 0

5:20pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Captain America says...

mattscott21 wrote:
Interesting that reps from all three main political parties are supporting this, it’s an absolute no brainer really. I’m all for local democracy but we have over 250 councillors in east lancs! that’s costing us almost £2m a year – not to mention 6 local authority chief execs earning well over £100k a year each. That’s before you staring looking at directors of HR, finance, planning etc… this could save millions and protect vital front line service I wouldn’t hold your breath though, turkeys don’t vote for chrismas! It needs the local MPs to show some leadership and come together to push this through.
you're spot on matt. you couldn't design a more inefficient local government system if you tried. good to see plenty of sensible comments on this thread. It's all about achieving the right balance between local democracy, but also having enough scale to compete for resources.
[quote][p][bold]mattscott21[/bold] wrote: Interesting that reps from all three main political parties are supporting this, it’s an absolute no brainer really. I’m all for local democracy but we have over 250 councillors in east lancs! that’s costing us almost £2m a year – not to mention 6 local authority chief execs earning well over £100k a year each. That’s before you staring looking at directors of HR, finance, planning etc… this could save millions and protect vital front line service I wouldn’t hold your breath though, turkeys don’t vote for chrismas! It needs the local MPs to show some leadership and come together to push this through.[/p][/quote]you're spot on matt. you couldn't design a more inefficient local government system if you tried. good to see plenty of sensible comments on this thread. It's all about achieving the right balance between local democracy, but also having enough scale to compete for resources. Captain America
  • Score: 0

5:42pm Mon 4 Feb 13

leelancs says...

Pennine Lancs is totally sensible - big enough to have clout/economies of scale and small enough to be responsive. I totally agree with mattscott21's comment. I'm not bothered where it is based - Accrington would be fine by me.....
Pennine Lancs is totally sensible - big enough to have clout/economies of scale and small enough to be responsive. I totally agree with mattscott21's comment. I'm not bothered where it is based - Accrington would be fine by me..... leelancs
  • Score: 0

5:56pm Mon 4 Feb 13

chrisb56 says...

Ribble Valley merge with Blackburn with Darwen, not a chance Councillor Lee......admit the truth you want your greedy little paws on our council tax revenue to prop up your ailing borough! We saw Balckburn with Darwen off once before and we see you off again, theres no way our MP will agree to this and no way the people of the Ribble Valley will agree to it either.............g
o away we do not want to be part of Blackburn with Darwen, not now not ever!
Ribble Valley merge with Blackburn with Darwen, not a chance Councillor Lee......admit the truth you want your greedy little paws on our council tax revenue to prop up your ailing borough! We saw Balckburn with Darwen off once before and we see you off again, theres no way our MP will agree to this and no way the people of the Ribble Valley will agree to it either.............g o away we do not want to be part of Blackburn with Darwen, not now not ever! chrisb56
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Mon 4 Feb 13

rilistic says...

Well said chrisb. Mavrick - you are nearly right - it was looked at in 1974 but Redcliffe/Maude proposed a Unitary County including Blackburn and Blackpool. That has been recommended again by Lord Heseltine in his recent report. Actually, as the countywide LEP proves, it is the only sensible solution - Pennine Lancs would still be too small to compete with the big beasts of local government. Sorry boys but you are dreaming!
Well said chrisb. Mavrick - you are nearly right - it was looked at in 1974 but Redcliffe/Maude proposed a Unitary County including Blackburn and Blackpool. That has been recommended again by Lord Heseltine in his recent report. Actually, as the countywide LEP proves, it is the only sensible solution - Pennine Lancs would still be too small to compete with the big beasts of local government. Sorry boys but you are dreaming! rilistic
  • Score: 0

8:25pm Mon 4 Feb 13

clickhere says...

No word from Ribble Valley corespondents.......
No word from Ribble Valley corespondents....... clickhere
  • Score: 0

9:01pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Venomp says...

Accrington with blackburn and darwen would work
Accrington with blackburn and darwen would work Venomp
  • Score: 0

9:22pm Mon 4 Feb 13

DEO VOLENTE says...

The fact of the matter is that Preston will continue to grow in strength and will of course swallow up the areas that are not already under its rule. Preston is recognised as the only credible economic force in Lancashire.Let the City of Preston take over the other failing areas. As for the Rubble Valley and the Sundown Segregation Set "I offer the following advice, "You can run but you cannot hide" Progress is coming your way very soon. I beleive the Cotswalds are very nice if you can afford it!

Deus Vobiscum
The fact of the matter is that Preston will continue to grow in strength and will of course swallow up the areas that are not already under its rule. Preston is recognised as the only credible economic force in Lancashire.Let the City of Preston take over the other failing areas. As for the Rubble Valley and the Sundown Segregation Set "I offer the following advice, "You can run but you cannot hide" Progress is coming your way very soon. I beleive the Cotswalds are very nice if you can afford it! Deus Vobiscum DEO VOLENTE
  • Score: 0

9:41pm Mon 4 Feb 13

psch says...

It is a bit rich for Julie Cooper to say it would be unpopular. It should have happened at the last Local Government reorganisation and it is long overdue.
It is a bit rich for Julie Cooper to say it would be unpopular. It should have happened at the last Local Government reorganisation and it is long overdue. psch
  • Score: 0

12:21am Tue 5 Feb 13

BearHugs says...

The way this government are making cuts, streamlining local councils has to be the way forward. Geoff Driver says local government reorganisation is not a priority for Whitehall but yet the councils are being backed into a corner forced to slash services. Councillor Driver knows that if the East Lancs councils and MPs get their act together and get a proposal in front of Eric Pickles then the break up of the county council will follow suit. At least then some of the jobs at County Hall can come back into this area as services are delivered more locally by people who understand the challenges and see them day in day out travelling to work rather than highly paid directors sat in Preston 'city' centre.
The way this government are making cuts, streamlining local councils has to be the way forward. Geoff Driver says local government reorganisation is not a priority for Whitehall but yet the councils are being backed into a corner forced to slash services. Councillor Driver knows that if the East Lancs councils and MPs get their act together and get a proposal in front of Eric Pickles then the break up of the county council will follow suit. At least then some of the jobs at County Hall can come back into this area as services are delivered more locally by people who understand the challenges and see them day in day out travelling to work rather than highly paid directors sat in Preston 'city' centre. BearHugs
  • Score: 0

1:15am Tue 5 Feb 13

bunnyboiled says...

Save millions, we have all heard that one before!
Save millions, we have all heard that one before! bunnyboiled
  • Score: 0

3:39pm Thu 21 Feb 13

Cllr R.Smith says...

Absolutely not! I would oppose this as it will just become Lancashire County Council, too big and too undemocratic. I'm a Pendle Borough and I say NO. I'm open to Pendle Burnley and even Hyndburn becoming a unitary authority but certainly not with Blackburn or Rossendale.
Absolutely not! I would oppose this as it will just become Lancashire County Council, too big and too undemocratic. I'm a Pendle Borough and I say NO. I'm open to Pendle Burnley and even Hyndburn becoming a unitary authority but certainly not with Blackburn or Rossendale. Cllr R.Smith
  • Score: 0

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