Voters will be heading to the polls on Thursday (5 May) in an election that will help to shape the future of local government in Cumbria.
In the biggest change to Cumbria’s council structures since 1974, two new ‘unitary’ councils are being formed to replace the existing set-up of six district councils and Cumbria County Council.
In the area currently covered by Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District councils the new unitary authority will be called Westmorland and Furness Council.
In the area currently covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City and Copeland Borough councils the new unitary authority will be called Cumberland Council.
The new unitary councils won’t start operating services in those areas until 1 April 2023, but on Thursday this week, 5 May, voters will have the opportunity to elect councillors to the new authorities.
In the Westmorland and Furness Council election, voters will be electing 65 councillors to the new unitary council. They will be elected in 33 new wards covering the new council area, with voters in 24 of those wards able to vote for up to two or three candidates to represent them.
The number of ‘seats’ in each ward has been determined by calculating the ratio of voters in the ward against the 65 councillors who will make up the new council. This means that wards with more voters will have seats for two or three councillors to represent them.
The new warding arrangements and numbers of councillors in each ward have been drawn up against Local Government Boundary Commission guidance and have been approved by Government.
Ballot papers include instructions indicating the number of candidates people can vote for (for example, stating ‘Vote for no more than 3 candidates’ if it is a ward with three seats).
Voters are therefore encouraged to read their ballot paper carefully before casting their vote/s to ensure they can vote for the number of candidates they are entitled.
Voters in multi-seat wards do not have to use all the votes they are entitled to if they don’t wish to vote for more than one candidate, and voters in multi-seat wards can choose to use their two or three votes to vote for candidates from different political parties or groups.
The following is a list of all 33 Westmorland and Furness Council wards, with the numbers of seats in each ward in brackets:
Barrow area wards
Dalton North (2)
Dalton South (2)
Hawcoat and Newbarns (3)
Old Barrow and Hindpool (3)
Ormsgill and Parkside (3)
Risedale and Roosecote (3)
Walney Island (3)
Eden area wards
Alston and Fellside (2)
Appleby and Brough (2)
Eamont and Shap (1)
Eden and Lyvennet Vale (2)
Greystoke and Ullswater (1)
Hesket and Lazonby (2)
Kirkby Stephen and Tebay (2)
Penrith North (2)
Penrith South (2)
South Lakeland area wards
Bowness and Lyth (1)
Burton and Holme (1)
Coniston and Hawkshead (1)
Grange and Cartmel (3)
High Furness (1)
Kendal Castle (2)
Kendal Highgate (2)
Kendal Nether (2)
Kendal South (2)
Kendal Strickland and Fell (2)
Kent Estuary (2)
Levens and Crooklands (1)
Low Furness (1)
Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale (2)
Upper Kent (1)
Windermere and Ambleside (3)
Candidates will still be elected on a ‘first past the post’ basis, meaning that in multi-seat wards the two or three candidates with the most votes will be the ones who are elected.
The councillors on the new Westmorland and Furness Council will be elected for a five-year term of office, the first year on a Westmorland and Furness ‘Shadow Authority’ that will oversee the planning and preparation for the new unitary council, followed by four years on Westmorland and Furness Council, which will ‘go live’ on Vesting Day on 1 April 2023.
The existing Cumbria County Council, Barrow Borough Council, Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council will continue to operate and deliver all current services until Vesting Day.
From 1 April 2023 the Shadow Authority and its 65 councillors become the new Westmorland and Furness Council and the existing county council, borough and district councils will be dissolved.
Covid measures will be in place at polling stations. Hand sanitisers will be available, polling station staff will be behind perspex screens and voters are asked to respect social distancing inside the polling station. Although no longer a mandatory requirement, mask wearing will be encouraged while in the polling station.
Anyone who tests positive for Covid ahead of the elections and may not wish to visit a polling station to vote on 5 May, is also advised that it will be possible to apply for an emergency proxy vote – where a trusted person is nominated to vote on your behalf – up to 5pm on 5 May.
More details about applying for an emergency proxy vote (which can also be for reasons other than Covid, including other medical emergencies or unexpectedly having to work away from home) can be found on the Electoral Commission website: Apply to vote by proxy | Electoral Commission
For more information on Westmorland and Furness Council elections, including lists of candidates, an interactive map showing the new wards and how many candidates you can vote for in each ward, visit the Shadow Authority for Westmorland and Furness Council website at https://www.westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk
Full results from Thursday’s election will be available on the website following the election counts, which take place on Friday, 6 May.
For more information on local government reorganisation in Cumbria go to: https://newcouncilsforcumbria.info