Could Lancashire be missing out on its share of devolution?

Recent headlines have followed the Chancellor’s next steps in delivering his promise of Northern Powerhouse devolution, most notably as he has travelled to China seeking potential investors for projects in the UK, including the North of England. Mr Osborne has been accompanied by delegates from the key local authorities of the various regions already bidding for devolution packages, but this coverage has also highlighted the lack of any Lancashire representatives and raised questions in the regional press about whether the county could be missing out.

Whilst discussion on the economy of the North has largely focussed on the city regions of Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester,  Lancashire is a noteworthy economic region encompassing  Lancashire County Council, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, and 12 district councils. Many have called for a Combined Lancashire Authority to try and secure a devolution package for the area to match that of the nearby City Regions. Whilst the councils have liaised with one another on the topic, there is still no agreement over its establishment. The Treasury has been firm that even if a combined authority is not established, councils should work together to agree and bid for what they want for their patch.

With the Chancellor presenting £24 billion worth of Northern investment opportunities to China, it is no surprise that those who already fear that the Red Rose County is losing out are becoming increasingly frustrated. Time will tell whether clear coordination, in the form of one combined authority parallel to that of the City Regions who have engaged in the Northern Powerhouse process, will be required to secure economic powers for the county.

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