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Unitary bid by Chorley Council

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle and the Leader of Chorley Council Alistair Bradley outside Chorley's Town Hall

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle and the Leader of Chorley Council Alistair Bradley outside Chorley's Town Hall

Chorley Council is seeking to go it alone and become a unitary authority.

The shock announcement to pull out of Lancashire County Council was made today.

It follows a meeting between borough leaders and Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government last week.

Residents would be asked to vote on the abitious plans - with a referendum taking place as early as next May.

If the break away happens Chorley Council would follow Blakburn and Blackpool in leaving Lancashire County Council.

All local council services - including highways, children’s services and social care - would be run by Chorley.

The Labour leadership’s proposal has the backing of councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council and Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle.

Councillor Bradley said; “This would mean a big change in how things are run but it would streamline the whole

process and make it simpler for residents.

“There is confusion over who provides what services in Chorley and if we can take charge of what’s happening in our borough it will mean decisions are taken in Chorley for Chorley residents and not by people who don’t know the borough that well.”

Mr Hoyle said: “I firmly believe in localism and believe that the best decision are those taken with local interest at heart. Many others councils have broken away from the two tier system and have been successful in providing quality local services.

“I think we can do the same in Chorley and would welcome a public debate and vote on this issue. My priority has always been Chorley and its residents and that is why I want them to dictate our future on this important matter.”

Chorley Council wants to end its current two-tier system of local government and embark on a plan to run all council services within the borough.

Coun Bradley said; “If we can take charge of what’s happening in our borough, it will mean decisions are taken in Chorley for Chorley residents and not by people who don’t know the borough that well.”

Coun Bradley added: “We have been able to introduce a number of improvements since we took control in 2012 but we often find ourselves thwarted by not being in control of all local services, which would help improve the area.

“We believe local services are best provided by local people within our borough and that is why we want put this question to residents.”

The council says the proposal comes amid a backdrop of uncertainty over local government funding and the realisation that things will need to change radically in the
future.

Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles has urged the council to seek approval of the local population and if successful this would be presented to theGovernment for approval.

Coun Bradley added: “It’s in the very early stages but we now have a steer from the Government that if we do have support locally ministers would seriously look at the proposals.”

Mark Perks, leader of the opposition Conservative Group on Chorley Council, said: “My initial reaction is I don’t think the authority is big enough and clearly at the end of the day we all want better services, and at a time when a lot of authorities want joint services, I find it incredible Chorley think they can go it alone.”

Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council said: “The county Labour Group shares a commitment to reforming the structures of local government in Britain.

“While It’s unclear exactly what Coun Bradley is suggesting, a smaller unitary authority the size of Chorley on its own is unlikely to be financially viable.

“Other authorities much larger than Chorley have entered into these arrangements and are now finding themselves in a critical financial position.

“Government financing is increasingly based on efficient economies of scale and the ability to work across larger areas. Any transition to a smaller authority is likely to disadvantage Chorley in this respect and result in local residents paying more for less.”

 

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