Straw backs East Lancashire council merger to fight cuts threat

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Jack Straw Jack Straw

MP JACK Straw has revived controversial proposals to merge six East Lancashire councils into a single all-purpose authority after Chancellor George Osborne warned of billions of pounds more cuts.

The Blackburn MP said one unitary body covering Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribble Valley would achieve cost-cutting and protect services.

He is circulating a draft letter, addressed to Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, on the plan to East Lancashire politicians for comment. Last year, ministers opposed any further organisational change which would mean scrapping Lancashire County Council.

Ribble Valley Tory leader Stuart Hirst and Burnley Labour boss Julie Cooper both expressed dismay at the £25billion further cuts in council and welfare spending proposed by Mr Osborne and doubted whether a single East Lancashire council could work. Lancashire county finance boss David Borrow said: “Ordinary, hard-working people, and especially the elderly will be forced to bear the brunt of these cuts. A country as rich as ours should be able to look after the poor without relying on food banks.”

Mr Straw said: “Unitary authorities can do a better job at lower cost.

“The government has put this on ice but there is no reason why discussions cannot take place.”

Coun Hirst said he was ‘dismayed’ at Mr Osborne’s comments but Ribble Valley residents would oppose Mr Straw’s plan.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones supported Mr Straw but borough Tory leader Peter Britcliffe condemned the scheme.

Blackburn with Darwen council’s Labour leader Kate Hollern and her Tory counterpart Mike Lee support the idea.

Comments (5)

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10:18pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Pan-cake says...

Certainly a subject that should be discussed. A degree of amalgamation is already taking place, as the smaller councils share services with adjacent authorities and do subcontract work for Lancashire County Council. An East Lancashire unitary authority would also solve the problem of Councillors being both district and county councillors - a clear conflict of interest added to the the vexed subject of taking double expenses.
It would also address the difficulty of the County being run by one party and the district by t'other lot. Endless bickering and points scoring rather than getting on with the job.
A unitary authority would also be a way of Great Harwood being reconnected with the Ribble Valley. Result!. Though no doubt Ribble Valleyers will have an opinion about connecting with Accrington and Rossendale.
Certainly a subject that should be discussed. A degree of amalgamation is already taking place, as the smaller councils share services with adjacent authorities and do subcontract work for Lancashire County Council. An East Lancashire unitary authority would also solve the problem of Councillors being both district and county councillors - a clear conflict of interest added to the the vexed subject of taking double expenses. It would also address the difficulty of the County being run by one party and the district by t'other lot. Endless bickering and points scoring rather than getting on with the job. A unitary authority would also be a way of Great Harwood being reconnected with the Ribble Valley. Result!. Though no doubt Ribble Valleyers will have an opinion about connecting with Accrington and Rossendale. Pan-cake

8:54am Wed 8 Jan 14

Birtrumthegreat says...

It's actually a good idea, providing that Blackburn and Ribble Valley's planning departments are disbanded. Otherwise every second building will become a mosque, with a hideous fibreglass dome on it and every green field a mock Tudor housing estate.
It's actually a good idea, providing that Blackburn and Ribble Valley's planning departments are disbanded. Otherwise every second building will become a mosque, with a hideous fibreglass dome on it and every green field a mock Tudor housing estate. Birtrumthegreat

9:24am Wed 8 Jan 14

ste.g says...

this makes me feel uneasy
this makes me feel uneasy ste.g

9:30am Wed 8 Jan 14

AnthonyUK says...

Big supercouncils cannot effectively do the jobs smaller town/district councils can do better, and this idea should be shot at birth and never implemented.
Big supercouncils cannot effectively do the jobs smaller town/district councils can do better, and this idea should be shot at birth and never implemented. AnthonyUK

6:04pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Michael@ClitheroeSince58 says...

If we in the Ribble Valley can be in charge of the finances fair enough but trust Blackburn with our money NO Thanks!
If we in the Ribble Valley can be in charge of the finances fair enough but trust Blackburn with our money NO Thanks! Michael@ClitheroeSince58

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