Lancashire devolution: Ribble Valley council leader denounces calls for an elected mayor

The leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council has criticised calls from councillors for an elected Lancashire mayor with a devolution deal being signed today.

Stephen Atkinson believes the existing level two combined authority deal – that wouldn’t include an elected mayor – would be more appropriate for the county.

The Lancashire Combined Authority (LCA) is set to be governed by four elected members – three of which being constituent council leaders, along with two non-voting members being nominated by district councils, and two more associate members.

Cllr Atkinson said: “They [elected mayors] get carried away with flagship projects and various areas get neglected.

“If you look at Manchester for example, in the centre it’s wonderful, but there’s a lot of areas I think have been left behind.

“I think it puts too much power in one persons hands.”

The county currently comprises of one county council, two unitary authorities and 12 city/borough councils.

“You’ll have the three upper tier councils and the district councils will participate in the discussions”, the Conservative councillor said.

Cllr Atkinson – of the Brockhall and Dinckley ward – also expressed his desire for future decision to be made with ‘balance’.

This has been echoed by Lancashire County Council leader Phillipa Williamson who’s claimed that a mayor wouldn’t work due to the county being ‘80% rural’.

The LCA was announced in the Autumn statement last week with Minister for Levelling Up, Jacob Young being present at Lancaster Castle today for the deal’s signing after eight years of negations.

Labour county councillor for Great Harwood, Rishton and Clayton-Le-Moors Noordad Aziz is one politician calling for greater devolution than that proposed in the latest deal.

Cllr Aziz said: “A missed opportunity for residents across Lancashire that appears to lag behind the deals offered to Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

“This is called a level two deal by the Conservative government, I’d prefer to call it second class.”