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More than 200 councillors could lose jobs in Cumbria unitary plans

Cumbria could axe more than 200 councillors if the county’s seven councils are cut back under plans to create a unitary authority for the region, according to exploratory work done by the county council.

Across its seven councils, Cumbria has 368 councillors0— but under the unitary reform plans to cut seven authorities down to one, which would save an estimated £24m, this could fall to less than 160.

Last month the county council’s cabinet agreed to approach the government to talk about reducing the number of councils to either one or two unitary authorities, with settling for two councils for the region estimated to result in savings of £16m a year.

But district councils have argued that they have saved £53m in the past three years; and, with more savings planned, claim the reform isn’t needed—adding that the government should not be intervening by imposing a reorganisation.

Supporters of the reorganisation, which would see the county council and six district councils combine responsibilities, say the move will save millions of pounds, reduce confusion amongst residents, streamline services and simply local government.

Cumbria’s 266 town and parish councils would be unaffected by any proposals but reform could lead to hundreds of council job losses.

Five potential alternatives will now likely be explored by the government, but the decision rests with James Brokenshire, and there remains a possibility that the local government secretary could order the Boundary Commission for England to start a review in Cumbria.

In November Cumbria County Council submitted the proposals for moving to a unitary system, which was followed by a debate of the proposed changes, with one councillor calling Cumbria’s “broken” current system which has seen the local councils “over-governed and under-led.”

Lib Dem Cllr Andy Connell urged councillors to think carefully about the plans, and warned of the small “unglamorous” risks to council functions.


Image credit - Geograph


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