Pendle Lib Dems against 'Pennine Lancashire' Council proposals

Plans for a Pennine Lancashire Unitary authoity were first mooted in February
Plans for a Pennine Lancashire Unitary authoity were first mooted in February

Liberal Democrats are calling on Pendle Council to resist the borough being swallowed up in a "Pennine Lancashire" unitary authority which they say would mean a takeover by Blackburn.

The Pendle Liberal group leader Coun. David Whipp has tabled a motion for the full Pendle Council meeting on Thursday calling on the council to oppose proposals for a Pennine Unitary Council.

Plans for Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Borough Councils to merge with Blackburn and Darwen, and leave Lancashire County Council were first mooted in February, with the four council leaders at the time writing to the Government and their MPs seeking their backing for the big ambitions.

However, when Labour regained control in May of Pendle Council in a loose power-sharing agreement with the Lib Dems, they were told by the latter that they were opposed to the unitary authority plans. The control of Burnley Council also changed in May.

Coun. Whipp said: “A massive council covering the whole area from Longridge and Darwen to Barnoldswick and Trawden would mean the end of local democracy. It is being put forward by Blackburn with Darwen Council which is struggling with its unitary status.

"It would mean a take-over of local services in Pendle, many of which would no doubt be cut and closed down and sold off to meet the needs of the bigger towns to the west.

"Towns like Barnoldswick, Colne and even Nelson would be left with just a handful of councillors to represent them against the massed ranks from bigger towns to the west.

"Services would be centralised in Blackburn and Accrington, and the voices of local residents here would just be shut out and over-ridden on issues like new housing developments and other planning matters, street cleansing, leisure facilities, and all the local services that Pendle currently provides.

"We will always be on the edge. We already have to fight hard to make our voices heard at the County Council. Being run from Blackburn would be no better – and a new Pennine Council would take over everything, not just the things Lancashire does.”

The Liberal Democrats added that hiving off East Lancashire from the county council and closing down districts like Pendle would cost millions of pounds that would be lost to services. It would also cause mayhem and chaos in the rest of the county which remained by requiring major reorganisation.