Council leaders reaffirm support for The Bay unitary authority

The leaders of Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland councils have reaffirmed their support and commitment for the proposed Bay unitary authority after leadership changes in two of the authorities.

Both Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council elected new leaders following recent annual meetings, with Councillor Caroline Jackson and Councillor Jonathan Brook taking on the roles at their respective authorities.

All three administrations continue to back The Bay unitary bid, with the council leaders saying a Bay unitary alongside a new North Cumbria authority covering Allerdale, Carlisle, Copeland and Eden is the best solution for local communities.

In a joint letter sent to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, Councillor Brook, Councillor Jackson and Barrow Borough Council Leader, Councillor Ann Thomson said:

“The Bay has strong cross-party support in each of our local authorities and as the new team of leaders, we are working together to develop plans to implement changes, subject to your decision on local government reorganisation.

“We believe that The Bay and North Cumbria proposal is the option that best meets your criteria.

“Our proposal is an opportunity to positively transform the area at a time when our communities and economies are rebuilding from the pandemic.

“Both The Bay and proposed North Cumbria unitary will improve local government and service delivery, provide stronger leadership and more sustainable structures.  

“Our proposals deliver comparable benefits to reorganisation to a county unitary in the short term, but crucially are more resilient in the longer term.

“Our priority, like yours, is to deliver public value through a sustainable and resilient local council that delivers priority services and empowers communities. Our proposal is a bold vision for local government reform.

“There’s a public service imperative to focus on what public services need to do to respond to today’s society and needs.

“Our proposals are about reform as much as reorganisation, focussing on the major agendas of community power, community wealth, health and wellbeing and the climate emergency.”

The recent government consultation was open to businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations, as well as members of the public.

Respondents were able to email or complete an online survey, indicating their views on four proposals put forward for local government reorganisation in Cumbria.

The joint proposal for a new Bay authority was developed in response to a letter from the government in October 2020.

It was sent to councils in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Somerset inviting submissions on ‘locally-led proposals for unitary government’ in those areas.

Under The Bay plan, the district councils of Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland and county council in Cumbria would be replaced with a newly created, single tier ‘unitary’ local authority for the area.

The new authority would deliver the services currently provided by both the district and county councils, such as waste and recycling collections, public realm, planning, highways and transport, and adult and children’s social care.

Full meetings of Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland councils in December 2020 agreed that the business case for a Bay unitary should be submitted to the government.

However, Lancashire County Council rejected Lancaster joining The Bay authority in April.

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