The leader of South Lakeland District Council has reiterated the authority’s commitment to forming new local authority arrangements which will be fit for the future and deliver the best outcomes for communities.
Jonathan Brook told a meeting of the full council last night that officers and cabinet were focused on leading the way and working with all the district authorities and the county council to ensure its services, support and leadership continue through the transition period – and that an effective and efficient unitary structure with enhanced and improved services is put in place.
It was announced last week that local government in Cumbria would be reorganised, with two new unitary authorities formed to replace the six district councils and county council in April 2023.
Councillor Brook said: “We have already had several conversations across the three authorities of Eden, South Lakeland and Barrow, as well as Cumbria County Council, and we are committed to working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for our residents.
“We will also seek to keep members from across all parties both informed and involved. It is too early in the process to say exactly how this will be achieved, but this is our intention and it is in our organisational DNA to work collaboratively across boundaries, so we are well placed to deliver on our aspirations.
“This is an exciting opportunity and whilst the timing may not be what we would have wished for, we will work tirelessly to deliver the best outcomes for our communities.”
A letter from Government sent to councils in Cumbria in October invited submissions on locally-led proposals for unitary government.
Four bids were entered and consulted on, including a joint Bay proposal put forward by South Lakeland District Council, Barrow Borough Council and Lancaster City Council for a new unitary authority around Morecambe Bay.
Government announced last week that its choice was an option jointly proposed by Allerdale and Copeland councils for two new unitary authorities in Cumbria – West Cumbria and East Cumbria.
The new East Cumbria council joins the areas covered by Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District Councils, while the new West Cumbria authority join the areas covered by Allerdale Borough, Copeland Borough and Carlisle City Councils.
Coun Brook added: “We are firmly focussed on making these proposals work.
“Cabinet and officers will together seek to work closely with our local authority colleagues across Cumbria, to ensure excellent local services and support continue to be delivered throughout the transitional period and that we put in place the foundations for an effective and efficient unitary structure fit for the future.
“Our appetite and ambition to engage with the transformative agenda is undiminished, albeit on a different geographic footprint to that which we had hoped for.
“I want to be clear, we are not looking simply at the transfer and transition of functions, rather we are intent on engaging in a radical transformational agenda, which will deliver enhanced and improved services for our residents.
“We are well placed to take a leading role in this agenda, having embarked on our Customer Connect transformation programme, we have real practical experience to bring to the table as we progress through this process.”