BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has refused to publish letters relating to the creation of an all-purpose East Lancashire authority.

It rejected a Freedom of Information request from senior Ribble Valley Tory Cllr Ged Mirfin.

He asked: “Can I obtain copies of all correspondence relating to the creation of a Pennine Unitary Authority over the past 24 months between Geoff Driver, the leader of Lancashire County Council, Angie Ridgwell, the chief executive of LCC, Mohammed Khan, the leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council and Denise Park, the council chief executive.”

The council replied: “We are refusing to disclose this information as it is our view that it is exempt from disclosure as it would would, or would be likely, to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation and if disclosed would or would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.”

Cllr Mirfin said: “So much for public consultation. I would like to know how making the correspondence public would inhibit open and frank discussion. I am more than a touch exasperated.”

He added: “Is it the case that discussions relating to unitary authority creation which affect peoples lives can only take place behind closed doors where the public view is not taken into account or listened to.”