Leaders of three neighbouring councils have written to the Government to reaffirm their commitment to proposals for a new Bay unitary authority.
Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council have elected new leaders following recent annual meetings, and despite the changes in leadership all three administrations continue to back The Bay unitary bid, with leaders of Barrow Borough Council, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council 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 Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, leader of Lancaster council Caroline Jackson, South Lakeland leader Jonathan Brook and Barrow council leader Ann Thomson wrote: “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.”
Communities across the Morecambe Bay area have already sent a strong signal to Government on its proposals for local government reorganisation, with a Government minister confirming a significant number of supportive responses on The Bay proposal during the Government’s recent consultation, which closed in April.
Luke Hall MP, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, told a recent House of Commons debate on the Bay unitary proposal that “…well over four fifths of email responses alone are about the Bay proposal, and nearly two thirds of the total emails for Cumbria are from the Back the Bay campaign.’’
The confirmation of strong backing for the Bay proposal in the Government’s own consultation mirrors similar support during the councils’ own surveys and consultation events late last year.
The recent Government consultation was open to businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations and members of the public.
Unitary options put forward
- Barrow, South Lakeland and Lancaster jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: The Bay comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, South Lakeland District and Lancaster City Councils and North Cumbria, comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City, Copeland Borough and Eden District Councils.
- Allerdale and Copeland jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: West Cumbria comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City and Copeland Borough Councils and East Cumbria comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District Councils.
- Carlisle and Eden jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: North Cumbria comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City and Eden District Councils and South Cumbria comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, Copeland Borough and South Lakeland District Councils.
- Cumbria County Council submitted a proposal for a single unitary council covering the county area of Cumbria County: One Cumbria.
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 council meetings of all three councils in December agreed the business case for a Bay unitary should be submitted to Government.