Leader’s Message Spring 2018Published Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Welcome to my latest message featuring news on the proposed East Lancashire Unitary Authority, the Lancashire Combined Authority and our successful ‘peer challenge’ by the Local Government Association
East Lancashire Unitary Authority
Pendle Council has decided it wants to leave Lancashire County Council and form an East Lancashire Unitary Council with Blackburn, Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley. This unitary authority would be predominantly urban and industrial, and have little in common with the rurality of Ribble Valley. We have considered the council’s position and our intention is to remain part of Lancashire County Council within a two-tier council structure, where our independence is preserved and the strong voice of Ribble Valley residents will be heard and best represented.
The future of the Lancashire Combined Authority
I attended a Lancashire council leaders meeting, at which the leader of Lancashire County Council set out the county’s position regarding the proposed combined authority, including no voting rights for districts councils on transport issues. Ribble Valley is the largest rural borough in Lancashire and the council intends lobbying for improved rail services, including the doubling of passenger services between Clitheroe and Manchester, and investigating the restoration of services between Clitheroe and Hellifield. Our position is unchanged on the Lancashire Combined Authority. I have met and discussed the proposed framework for combined authorities with Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP and we await the Government’s announcement on combined authorities before reviewing our position.
District Council Network Conference
It was my pleasure to represent Ribble Valley Borough Council at the District Council Network Conference in Edgeworth attended by 95 boroughs and districts, Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government Sajid Javid and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Rishi Sunak. The message from the conference was that the way forward for borough councils is cooperative working with other councils and partners. In the session on cooperative working, I was able to cite the Lancashire Business Rates Pool ably managed by our resources director, Jane Pearson, and the Ribblesdale Community Partnership chaired by Councillor Bridget Hilton.
The second clear message from the conference was that the public health role for borough councils is to keep residents out of hospital, properly housed, warm and dry, provide leisure opportunities and tackle rural isolation, which is a particular problem for the elderly. We are a wellbeing authority, rather than a health authority, and in the near future we will reflect this by renaming our health and housing committee the wellbeing, environmental health and housing committee. This reflects the important role of our environmental health team in maintaining standards in food outlets and restaurants, among its many other functions.