Two bids have been submitted for local enterprise partnerships in Lancashire – one county-wide and the other for Burnley and Blackburn with Darwen – after authorities failed to agree on a single united application.
Three initial bids were all rejected in October for separate LEPs, which will replace regional development agencies, in the west around Fylde, the Pennine councils in the east and one large whole-county body.
The revised county-wide bid led by Lancashire County Council claims to have the support of four of the six authorities in the east as well as the three eastern councils: Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.
The Fylde three agreed to go in with the pan-Lancashire LEP proposal this time as long as they could bid for funds for their own ring-fenced projects without an LCC veto.
In the east, leaders of Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribble Valley Councils have broken ranks from the initial Pennine bid and are supporting Lancashire County Council.
Lancashire Council leaders met on Monday and decided to put forward a revised proposal without the support of Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley Councils.
A statement from Burnley Council questioned whether Pendle and Hyndburn can formally support the proposal because they "still have formed council decisions on their books supporting a Pennine Lancashire position". A further complication is that the Pennine Lancashire Joint committee, which involves all the East Lancashire Councils, decided to back a Pennine Lancashire proposal and this remains the case.
Cllr Charlie Briggs, leader of Burnley Council, said: "So much for localism and so much for business being in the lead on this agenda.
"I am clear that a Pennine Lancashire LEP, as part of a two LEP arrangement for Lancashire is the right solution. It is right for Burnley, right for Pennine Lancashire and right for Lancashire because it reflects the economic geography recognised by business."
Cllr Briggs added: "I think politicians should have the courage of their convictions. I asked my Pennine Lancashire colleagues what had changed – they all said they still preferred a Pennine Lancashire arrangement but said Government would not accept one. This is clearly not the case, it is the County Council that won't support it."
On 28 October, Government approved LEPs for Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria and Liverpool city region.