County Hall bosses decline invite to probe into Chorley’s future

Coun Jennifer Mein

Coun Jennifer Mein

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The head of a commission exploring Chorley’s future has expressed his disappointment that Lancashire County Council will not take part.

A probe will be held into Chorley Council’s plans to look for ways to improve services amid budget cuts.

Alistair Bradley

Alistair Bradley

One option being explored is unitary status, which would involve taking responsibility for some services from Lancashire County Council.

Professor Steven Broomhead, chief executive at Warrington Council and head of the commission, said: “I am extremely disappointed that Lancashire County Council has not chosen to get involved in this process, despite the numerous invitations made to them.

“Being involved in the commission is the ideal opportunity for public services to face up to the challenges before them and be open with the public.

“For a key provider of public services not to get involved helps no-one.”

Coun Alistair Bradley, Chorley Council’s leader, said: “I know they see the way forward as being the combined Lancashire authority where the county and districts work together over specific strategic issues – we do too, but we can do that as a unitary authority.

“My priority is to do what’s best for our residents.

“Budgets are being cut for all public service organisations and it’s not good enough to do nothing.”

The commission will meet at 9.30am on Wednesday and Thursday at Chorley Town Hall and is open to all.

Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said she was working with 14 district and unitary councils in the county to explore the possibility of a combined authority, after news of further responsibilities being devolved to Greater Manchester.

She continued: “We have explained in our response to Chorley’s request that we agree the notion of a commission is a worthwhile approach to looking at new ways of delivering services and the potential for innovation.

“However, given the scale of what is at stake and the fact it could affect the context of any discussion along those lines, we have also said that we need to concentrate our limited resources on work around a combined authority at this time.”