Several of you have contacted me following reports in the media this week about local councils being reorganised in Lancashire. The current position and my thoughts on this are below.
Larger councils (called Unitary Authorities) generally offer far better value for money for people than the smaller district councils which most of Lancashire has. The government want to phase out smaller councils over time and different parts of England are currently being reorganised into larger unitary authorities.
This process is set to continue and Lancashire is likely to be one of the next areas which is reviewed over the coming years. The media reports of this week outline just one view which has been put forward by Lancashire County Council of what could happen - there are of course many other views and different options regarding local geography and how the reorganisation might work. It is likely, however, that some changes will occur and that Blackpool will be part of this process.
What does this mean for Blackpool?
One option is that a new North West Lancashire Council could be created which would include Blackpool along with Lancaster, Fylde, Wyre and Ribble Valley.
How would this affect us and what is your view as our MP?
In my view a new council such as this would:
- Offer better value for money as it would allow services to be delivered easier and cheaper. For example, at the moment each of those 5 councils have a Chief Executive which costs those councils around £140,000 each per year. If you merge the councils you have saved £560,000 per year straight away...on just 1 job! Times this figure by the hundreds of jobs which are duplicated in each council and you end up with enormous savings which can be spent on better local services for you - not salaries for senior council officials. Local council tax payers will get more for their money.
- More money spent on services in Blackpool. The money saved by not duplicating services and roles would be put back into your local services. In addition to this, the other council areas around Blackpool are generally wealthier - councils tend to focus spending in areas in greatest need. This means that it is likely that spending on our local services in Blackpool would increase substantially.
- A fresh start. I know many of you are very disappointed that the current administration running the council has not listened to local opinion on issues such as the airport or Stanley Park. Furthermore, the council has consistently under performed in some areas such as Children’s Services which continue to be rated as inadequate. A new council would provide a fresh start and an opportunity for these issues to be looked at again.
- Billions extra for regeneration & transport improvements...which could include Blackpool Airport. A new Council would be given more powers by the government and control of capital spending on large projects on the things that local people want.
What this is not about:
- Cutting services. Money going to local councils from the government is increasing and this will continue whatever happens.
- Reducing our local voice. Blackpool will be by far the biggest area on any council it is part of and would naturally have a big say on the key issues.
Any changes that might happen are years away and nothing will change immediately but let me know your views on how we can get the best for Blackpool from any possible changes.
Let me know your views: