Cumbria council prepares to vote on unitary reorganisation proposals

Cumbria County Council has submitted proposals for moving to a unitary system which will go before the council next week.

Cumbria CC members will be asked to vote on a local government reorganisation which would see the county council and six district councils combine its responsibilities.

According to the report due to go in front of the council next Thursday, analysis by auditors EY calculated that the reorganisation could make direct annual savings of up to £24.6m, with further savings to be made through transforming services shared between the councils.

The local authority’s cabinet are being asked if Cumbria CC should “approach the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government to seek the government’s views on the potential for local government reorganisation in Cumbria.”

They will then take a final vote on 20 December on the proposals, which the report says will offer the opportunity to “improve and enhance joint working” across the local authorities, such as joint working on waste, public health and health and social care integration.

The report does warn of the risk that “transformation and improvement plans across the seven local authorities will not deliver the scale of reform and efficiency across the system to meet growing demand for services and budgetary challenges.”

Under the issues to be discussed is the potential for simplification of services, partnerships and community outcomes, and the increased focus on frontline services resulting from the simplification of organisational and democratic structures.

Councillors will look at the potential for establishing stronger lobbying powers for Cumbria at a local, regional and national level and to strengthen its buying powers, as well as a number of other possible outcomes from the reorganisation.

Cumbria’s leadership board has considered up to three reports already this year relating to local government reorganisation.

One said that whilst members of the board were “supportive of change,” there was however “no shared view of a way forward between the district councils, and that therefore not all of the councils would be participating in the further work.”

Debates involving the future of Cumbria's local government structure and much more will be discussed during EvoNorth next year. Click here to attend. 

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