A LANCASHIRE council leader has cast doubt on the supposed widespread economic benefits of Manchester’s boom, amid the devolution backdrop, for outlying boroughs like Rochdale.

Stephen Atkinson, Tory leader of Ribble Valley Council, believes some GM boroughs are not seeing meaningful economic progress while skyscraper developments cluster central Manchester.

Cllr Atkinson spoke out as a council policy committee gave a mixed response to the latest government-backed Lancashire Combined County Authority devolution proposal.

Ribble Valley councillors believe district council representatives on any new authority should have voting rights on decisions and current government funding allocations for Lancs boroughs, linked to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), should continue in a similar way under any changes.

Marshal Scott, Ribble Valley’s chief exec, said: "I think it’s fair to say the council has not been involved in these negotiations. A figure of £200m has been offered and powers over further education, skills and transport.

"It’s not clear what will happen with the UKSPF after 2025, if it continues. There is no certainty it will. It looks like it will go to the combined authority, if so.”

The UKSPF is seen as an alternative to old EU regional development funds. Under the combined authority plan, unveiled in November, the new authority would have up to eight members.

These would be four ‘constituent members’ appointed by Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool councils, two ‘non-constituent members’ nominated by district councils and up to two further non-constituent or associate members, to be appointed by the combined authority.

The constituent members would have full voting rights and the new authority would have the power to grant voting rights to  non-constituent members.

Mr Scott added: “There is discussion among districts about who the two [representatives] will be but, importantly, whether they will be able to vote? ”

Cllr Atkinson believes two representatives could have votes on issues relevant to district councils.

Mr Scott said: “If they want to, the new authority members could give district representatives voting rights. But up to now. they have been clear that is not going to happen. District representatives will not have votes on general work or an opportunity to block [decisions].”

Cllr Atkinson added: “If we get devolution, hopefully we will maintain the Ribble Valley, which is what residents want. Lancashire is the last two-tier authority in the north.”

He also questioned whether outlying parts of Greater Manchester were seeing the benefits of Manchester city centre’s modern boom or other arrangements.

He said: “If you go into central Manchester, you’ll see skyscrapers.  But go to places like Rochdale and they have got none. My view is that it does not benefit some areas.”

Fellow Tory Cllr Stuart Hirst said: “Regarding devolution, we have gone from being a central player to now picking-up the crumbs. None of that lies at Cllr Atkinson’s door."

Independent Cllr Jim Rogerson said: “Every time amalgamation is looked at, it takes power away from people. It’s like Europe. It’s all part of a move to a one-world government."