NORTHERN Powerhouse minister Jake Berry has given qualified backing to proposals for an East Lancashire super-council.

Last week the leaders of Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale announced they wanted to merge and create a unitary authority.

They sent a cross-party letter to local government secretary James Brokenshire calling for a new Pennine Lancashire body controlling all council services.

Hyndburn Borough leader Cllr Miles Parkinson declined to sign it and Ribble Valley boss Stephen Atkinson was not asked.

On Monday at Westminster, Rossendale and Darwen MP Mr Berry was tackled on the issue and government plans to removed deprivation from the calculations when deciding on Whitehall grants to by Burnley Labour MP Julie Cooper.

He told her: “As one of the MP s from East Lancashire covered by the proposal, I can say that we certainly welcome the discussions that are taking place more widely across East Lancashire.

“The Department has only just received the letter and is giving it some consideration, but surely we could make more progress if every council in East Lancashire supported it.