THE Chief Executives of three neighbouring councils are urging residents, businesses and organisations to make sure they have their say in a process that could shape the way local services are delivered for many years to come.
The Government is consulting on four different options for Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria, including a joint submission by Barrow Borough Council, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council to create a new unitary council around Morecambe Bay.
The consultation is open to businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations and members of the public who live, work or study in South Lakeland, Barrow and Lancaster, and will close next Monday, 19 April.
In a joint statement, the Chief Executives of the three councils, Sam Plum of Barrow Borough Council, Kieran Keane of Lancaster City Council and Lawrence Conway of South Lakeland District Council, said: “Time is running out if you want to ensure your voice is heard in the consultation, which closes in a week’s time.
“This is a vitally important issue that affects everyone who lives, works or does business in our three areas. The decision the Government comes to will determine how services from bin collections to social services will be delivered in the future and how the strategic direction of our areas will be shaped.
“We would urge as many people as possible to find out about the proposals and to have their say before the consultation closes on 19 April.’’
The joint proposal for a new Bay authority was developed in response to a letter from Government in October 2020 sent to councils in Cumbria, inviting submissions on ‘locally-led proposals for unitary government’.
Lancaster was able to join with Barrow and South Lakeland in the Bay proposal as the invitation letter from the Government made it clear they would welcome proposals from ‘one or more districts in a county and one or more relevant adjoining areas’, with the key criteria being that any new council should be based on a credible geography, command local support and be of sufficient size.
Full Council meetings of all three councils in December overwhelmingly agreed the business case for a Bay unitary should be submitted to Government, with 110 of the 118 councillors who voted in the meetings backing The Bay.
Under the Bay plan, the district councils (Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland) would be replaced with a newly created, single-tier ‘unitary’ local authority for the areas. The new authority would deliver the services currently provided by both the district and county councils in those areas, such as waste and recycling collections, public realm, planning, highways and transport and adult and children’s social care.
The Bay unitary would sit alongside a second unitary for North Cumbria, comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City, Copeland Borough and Eden District Councils.
The three other proposals submitted to Government for local government reorganisation in Cumbria are:
- Allerdale and Copeland have jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: ‘West Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City and Copeland Borough Councils and ‘East Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District Councils.
- Carlisle and Eden have jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: ‘North Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City and Eden District Councils and ‘South Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, Copeland Borough and South Lakeland District Councils.
- Cumbria County Council has submitted a proposal for a single unitary council covering the county area of Cumbria County ‘One Cumbria’.
To respond to the Government consultation by 19 April you can email with your views: email@example.com, or you can complete an online survey at: https://consult.communities.gov.uk/governance-reform-and-democracy/cumbria/