County councillors in Lancashire has agreed that a proposal for a new single unitary authority submitted by Cumbria County Council has passed government tests required for it to be considered further.
In February, an eight week consultation was launched by the government to consider a number of proposals for local government reorganisation.
Lancashire County Council was asked for its views on four proposals for Cumbria and two proposals for North Yorkshire, as both areas neighbour the county.
Members said that just one of Cumbria’s options, for a single unitary authority submitted, known as ‘One Cumbria’, passed the government's main tests for setting up a new council, which were:
- Whether the proposal will improve local government services.
- Whether there is a good deal of local support for the proposal.
- Whether the proposed new areas cover a credible geography.
In regards to a proposed new Bay unitary council, covering Lancaster and the authorities of Barrow and South Lakeland in Cumbria, councillors voted not to support the proposal at this time, on the basis that it does not meet all of the government's main tests.
Lancashire County Council also resolved that it had no comment to make about the North Yorkshire proposals.
A detailed report considering all the options will now be submitted to the government as part of the consultation.
Welcoming the decision, Leader of Cumbria County Council, Councillor Stewart Young said: “Firstly, I would like to thank Lancashire County Council for taking the time to debate Cumbria’s proposals.
“One Cumbria is the obvious solution and the only option that meets all of the government’s tests and requirements for a new unitary council going forward.
“Lancashire County Council undertook a rigorous independent review of our proposal for One Cumbria and have, as a result, made a formal decision to support our plans for a single unitary authority covering the whole of our county.
“Our proposal removes many layers of unnecessary bureaucracy and streamlines seven councils down into one, providing a model that makes much more sense to our residents and to our communities.
“One Cumbria will improve services and deliver significant savings and benefits that cannot be ignored and I can only hope that any final decision by government is properly informed by the views of all key stakeholders, such as our neighbouring counties.”
In July 2020, Lancashire County Council announced that a plan was being considered which would abolish all 15 councils in Lancashire, replacing them with a streamlined structure that would see three authorities responsible for the delivery of services countywide.
This would pave the way for the election of a mayor for the whole county and the creation of a Lancashire Combined Authority.