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 in south Cumbria and north Lancashire.
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.
A consultation, which is open to businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations and members of the public who live, work or study in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancaster and South Lakeland, will close on 19 April.
In a joint statement, the Chief Executives of the three councils, Lawrence Conway (South Lakeland), Kieran Keane (Lancaster) and Sam Plum (Barrow) 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 the government to councils in Cumbria in October 2020 inviting submissions on ‘locally-led proposals for unitary government’.
Lancaster was able to join with Barrow and South Lakeland, both located in Cumbria, 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’.
The key criteria set out by the government was 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 authorities in December 2020 overwhelmingly agreed that the business case for a Bay unitary should be submitted to government, with 110 of the 118 voting councillors backing the proposals.
Under the plan, 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, as well as 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 respectively.
The three other proposals submitted to the 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, Carlisle and Copeland councils and ‘East Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland councils.
- Carlisle and Eden have jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: ‘North Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Allerdale, Carlisle and Eden councils and ‘South Cumbria’ comprising the area covered by Barrow, Copeland and South Lakeland councils.
- Cumbria County Council has submitted a proposal for a single unitary council covering Cumbria called ‘One Cumbria’.