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Second county told devolution deal will not require mayor

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A devolution deal for Lancashire could be back on track following claims the government has confirmed a proposal without an elected mayor would be considered.

At a meeting of the shadow combined authority this week the majority of representatives from the 15 councils agreed to examine a potential deal following the intervention of devolution minister Jake Berry.

In March council leaders voiced their frustration over a lack of progress on a deal, accusing ministers of dragging their feet on deciding whether to set up the combined authority.

The combined authority was due to cover the whole county except for Wyre BC - which refused to participate due to the requirement for an elected mayor. Fylde BC had also said it may withdraw from the process.

Shadow combined authority chair and Blackpool BC leader Simon Blackburn (Lab) recently wrote to Mr Berry reiterating councils’ desire to work closer together.

Cllr Blackburn said the minister told him a devolution deal without a mayor was “very much on the table” during a subsequent visit to Lancashire.

Cllr Blackburn said: “It’s been a frustrating 10 months waiting for the government to give us some clarity on which direction they want us to go but now we have an option that all the Lancashire councils could be willing to consider.

“With positive discussions having taken place I’ll be writing to the secretary of state to request more detail as to what a devolution deal without an elected mayor would mean so we can get more information to all the councils as soon as possible.

“It’s important the government get back to us in a timely manner so we can get a decision from councils as to whether a combined authority without an elected mayor would be a model that they would want to pursue.”

This week council leaders in Devon and Somerset said Mr Berry had informed them of a softening of the government’s stance on devolution deals requiring an elected mayor.

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