Valley's Tory councillors reject plans for new unitary authority

Ken Hind says Conservative councillors are not interested to form a new East Lancashire Unitary Authority
Ken Hind says Conservative councillors are not interested to form a new East Lancashire Unitary Authority
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Conservative councillors in the borough are not interested in forming a "breakaway" East Lancashire unitary authority with neighbours from Pendle, Rossendale, Hyndburn, Blackburn and Burnley.

"Big is not always beautiful," says Ken Hind, leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, after rejecting the proposals put forward by Pendle Borough Council as they seek independence from Lancashire County Council.

He stressed local councillors want to remain as part of a two-tier council structure to preserve the district's "independence".

He commented : "We have had no formal request, but we view the prospects with disquiet. This potential unitary will be predominantly urban and industrial and have little in common with the rural Ribble Valley.

''The council has not yet considered the borough council's position formally. Any approach to join such a unitary authority by these authorities will result in a recommendation to council that we do not join by the current Conservative administration. Our commitment to the public is to remain as part of the Lancashire County Council area within a two-tier council structure, where our independence is preserved and the strong voice of Ribble Valley residents will be heard and best represented."

He added: "'Ribble Valley is a rural local authority not urban and should government order by legislation Ribble Valley to form part of a unitary authority, I will advise the council to look for other local authorities to form a unity which are of a similar rural nature with shared problems.

''We recognise that Lancashire County Council has its problems, but Ribble Valley has four county councillors who represent our interests and punch above our weight for the borough . In a vast East Lancs unitary we will be constantly outvoted, risk having a lot more houses dumped in the borough and be a cash cow from business rates and council tax for the towns of East Lancashire. Places like Chipping, Ribchester and Longridge which look to Preston as their major urban centre will feel alienated in a new East Lancs unitary authority.

''We are happy to work in partnership with our neighbouring councils, but as an independent entity in co-operation with them, but not dominated by them. Big is not always beautiful.''