A NEW campaign to give local government a distinct East Lancashire identity independent of the county council has been launched.

MPs and council bosses have agreed to a study on saving money by closer co-operation to cut householders’ bills.


The result could bring the boroughs of Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribble Valley together into a single all-purpose authority.

The meeting at Burnley Town Hall was called by Blackburn MP Jack Straw, who helped create Blackburn with Darwen as an independent unitary council.

It was attended by senior politicians and officials from all six boroughs along with Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, Pendle’s Andrew Stephenson, Ribble Valley’s Nigel Evans and Rossendale and Darwen’s Jake Berry.

It tasked Blackburn with Darwen chief executive Harry Catherall with compiling a report on potential cost savings for a meeting in January.

Mr Straw said: “This was a preliminary gathering.

“Officers are to prepare a report on increasing co-operation to save money.

“I personally favour a single East Lancashire unitary authority for all six boroughs.

“It is not about Blackburn taking over, as shown by meeting in Burnley.”

Liberal Democrat Mr Birtwistle said: “The main item was the possible creation of an East Lancashire unitary authority, separate from Lancashire county “Everyone is fed up and want the county council out of the equation.

“It is very Preston-centric and it’s time for a change.”

Tory Mr Stephenson said: “East Lancashire is a distinct place. We need to look at closer co-operation.

“A single all-purpose council for the six boroughs is definitely worth looking at.”

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: “There are many reasons why people are asking if it is in the best interests of East Lancashire that the county is dissolved into separate unitary authorities.

“East Lancashire is a single economic area, with many common characteristics.”

County council leader Jenny Mein said: “I was aware of the meeting. I do not think there is any appetite for restructuring local government .”