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'East Lancs councils must drop rivalries'
COUNCILS in East Lancashire must put aside local rivalries and work together for the benefit of all their taxpayers, Blackburn with Darwen’s retiring chief executive has said.
In an interview to mark his departure, after six years in charge, Graham Burgess said Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, and Rossendale, had to work with their bigger unitary authority neighbour to benefit all of them.
He believes that Blackburn going it alone as an all-purpose council, free from Lancashire County Hall control, on April 1 2008 was a big step forward for the borough.
Mr Burgess said he believed single-tier “unitary” status was the way forward for Blackburn-with-Darwen’s neighbours.
He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I think unitary status has been a great success for Blackburn. In the current economic climate, and with reductions in government grants, all councils need to save money which unitary status does.
“I also believe that the authorities in Pennine Lancashire need to work together to provide the best service, at the lowest cost, to our council tax-payers.
“Some people have suggested a single Pennine all-purpose council for Blackburn-with-Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, and Rossendale, but it is not my place to say whether that is a good idea.
“But I do think that the East Lancashire councils working closely together in the future is vitally important, however they do it. The old rivalries between Blackburn and Burnley are much less than they were, but we all need to realise we are in this together.
“There are still major problems of deprivation in Pennine Lancashire which look likely to get worse under this government’s economic programme. We need to realise that what is good for Blackburn is good for Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale – and Ribble Valley – and vice- versa.
“Becoming a unitary authority has been good for Blackburn with Darwen and its council tax-payers. In my time as chief executive, it has been national council of the year twice – a unique achievement.”
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