A COUNCIL is to tell the government it rejects Lancashire leader Geoff Driver's proposal for three all-purpose local super authorities for the county.

Earlier this month the senior Conservative wrote to Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick with plans to create a Combined Authority with an elected Mayor.

He also said to create this the county needed to replace the existing 14 district councils with three unitary authorities, one covering Pennine Lancashire and including Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale, and Pendle.

The scheme has provoked and angry reaction from the smaller district leaders with only Blackburn with Darwen's Cllr Mohammed Khan enthusiastically backing it.

Last night, after a heated debate, Pendle's full council meeting passed a motion condemning the idea.

It is now to write to Mr Jenrick asking him to veto the proposed changes.

Proposing the motion Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tony Greaves said: “The elimination of Covid-19, responding to the fallout from the virus and the health and economic consequences of the epidemic should be the top priority for all tiers of government, rather than wasting time and energy on such shuffling of deckchairs.

"Surely this is not the time to be changing the structure of local authorities, or arguing about that the new wards should be, shifting all the staff. and generally creating chaos in the administration of local government in the county."

The motion was backed by Horsfield Conservative Cllr Neil Butterworth.

His Tory group leader Cllr Nadeem Ahmed said that while he shared concerns about the abolition of Pendle to be part of a bigger unitary authority and the way Cllr Driver had sent his plan to the government without proper consultation with district council leaders, the motion should be dropped.

He said it would be better to discuss the issue after the government had published its promised White Paper on regional devolution.

Cllr Greaves replied that now was the right time to send the letter after Cllr Driver's submission and before the government finalised its local devolution proposals.

The council will now write to Mr Jenrick and tell him it 'does not agree to the creation of unitary authorities in Lancashire, or the creation of an Elected Mayor for the wider county area.'