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Working for Burnley means working together - by Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend

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Major discussions are progressing regarding the Lancashire Combined Authority.

In a separate development, the County Council is thinking about how its services are delivered, in the context of big government funding cuts and growing pressures and demands.

In politics, as in life, deciding not to go ahead with something can be just as significant as taking the next step forward.

That is why I was disappointed that the leader of Fylde Council has effectively withdrawn its support for the process of setting up a combined authority. Together with the neighbouring borough of Wyre in the west of the county, they are now at odds with all their Lancashire counterparts.

I’d like us all be working together and looking ahead, so this is disappointing  for the embryonic shadow combined authority.

But disappointment is no reason to give up on an important goal.

This process was never going to be easy.

My view now is that those of us committed to getting proper resources and real powers devolved to Lancashire need to redouble our efforts.

It is essential that the progress that has been made is not lost – so I am pleased that plans to put forward a devolution deal will still go ahead.

There is a compelling case for a Combined Authority for Lancashire – and Burnley should be at the heart of it. We have made great strides over recent years, but our borough now needs a strong and effective Lancashire if it is to do even better in the future.

The decisions which are made about how Lancashire governs itself will impact directly on our future – both politically and economically. 

That’s why Lancashire business leaders have a huge part to play in making the case for a Combined Authority, and need to be lobbying government and councils hard for devolution.

Our clear message is that the best way forward for Burnley is to be centrally involved in decision making within the wider county – and indeed to contribute to positive results for the whole of the north west.

The case for co-operation and collaboration was well made by Sir Howard Bernstein, the chief executive of Manchester Council, when we spoke at a recent event in Burnley. His reflection was “Lancashire is a big place. But if it is to take maximum advantage of the opportunities that devolution offers, the political leaders here have to put traditional rivalries to one side and get on with delivering what is best for the county’s businesses and Lancashire’s economy.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Councillor Mark Townsend
Councillor Mark Townsend

Councillor Townsend represents Brunshaw ward. He became Leader of Burnley Council in June 2014.

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