LANCASHIRE’S Church of England’s Diocese of Blackburn has voted in favour of the latest legislation to allow women to become bishops.

The move was approved at a special meeting on Thursday night despite the opposition of Bishop of Burnley John Goddard.

The ballot came out decisively in favour of the Church’s latest proposals to end the long-running dispute over female ordination by 83 votes to 34, with three abstentions.

Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson and Bishop of Lancaster Geoff Pearson both voted in favour.

In 2011 the Diocesan Synod of Blackburn Diocese narrowly voted in favour of proposals for the introduction of women bishops into the Church of England.

In November 2012 the Church of England’s General Synod narrowly failed to secure the necessary majorities to allow women to become Bishops.

In the 15 months which followed, work was done to identify a new approach.

This week’s decision means Blackburn Diocese will vote for women Bishops when the General Synod reconsiders the issue in July.

If passed, the legislation would go to Parliament and could be in force before the end of the year.

Bishop Julian said: “I am delighted our Synod has taken this important step towards equality for women within the Church.

“I am fully supportive of women clergy and I am looking forward to my first ordinations of women priests in June.

“It follows that I also support the introduction of women bishops. This vote takes us ever-closer to the moment when women will take their place alongside men as Bishops.”

Bishop John said: “I could not in conscience vote for the elevation of women to the Episcopate therefore I voted against.

“The latest proposals represent a considerable improvement.”