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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Unitary authority for Cumbria ‘inevitable’ says new report

Political reform in Cumbria which could see a shake-up of the councils is “desirable and inevitable”, according to a new report.

Jason Gooding photo
Dr Jason Gooding

County councillors were today reviewing a task group’s conclusions that a unitary authority could be the way forward – redrawing the political map of the county.

Cumbria County Council’s scrutiny management board was instructed to look into the possibility of moving to a unitary authority system.

If it goes ahead, the reform could see the existing system of the separate district authorities – including Carlisle City Council, Copeland Council, Allerdale Council and the county council – scrapped.

A report prepared by the unitary authority task group was being presented to the county council’s cabinet today.

It concludes that change in Cumbria may be necessary due to Government funding cuts.

The report states: “The evidence heard convinced all members of the task group that some form of unitary/combined authority is both desirable and inevitable for Cumbria: desirable, in that combined authorities are able to be more efficient, effective, and responsive to local needs; and inevitable, due to the inexorable financial pressure from central government.

“The task group has made no judgement as to what such a governance structure should look like – one, two or more authorities.

“This is a decision that they believe could only be made by all of the authorities in the county working together, consulting with the community, and with the support of central government.”

The task group carried out research into national policy and spoke to all of the district and borough councils, as well as other key partners in Cumbria.

It also consulted a number of other local authorities in England – both unitary and two-tier areas.

Jason Gooding, the chief executive of Carlisle City Council, told the committee that the authority had no specific view on a move to unitary at the moment.

According to the report significant reductions in Government funding were seen as a key change in long-term change in local government.

The report added that the issue of long term viability of some authorities may potentially become a consideration as budgets continued to be squeezed.

The debate is now set to move to the Cumbria leaders board – a group of all council leaders from each authority who will develop an action plan.

Have your say

As pointed out by one correspondent - there are six or more of everything that we pay for - massive duplication that coulc be much reduced. Unfortunately - just like Cunbrian tourism bodies - they all compete with each other and do not believe in team work - thus waste cash and duplicate effort. Slowly-slowly - start to combine the players - Copeland and Allerdale for starters - except Copeland Leader has already stated 'Copeland first in all things' which is not the best approach to talks and does West Cumbria no good at all.
Sadly many of the so called 'leaders' and many councillors are in it for the kudos and until we get shot of them I can't see any dramatic changes happening, much needed that they are.
Mike Robbins

Posted by Mike Robbins on 21 March 2013 at 12:01

I think it would make a big difference. Not only do the public think that "the Council" is one authority already, but it would make working towards a common goal much easier for staff with less overheads.

A unitary authority has been discussed between Councillors from each district anyway, but suprise suprise, none of them want to go for it as they'd be out of jobs. Who really needs 84 County Councillors & 284 District Councillors most of whom will get expenses paid, funding to spend in the areas, etc. etc.

Unitary authority is the way forward for the better of Cumbria.

Posted by Mrs S on 18 March 2013 at 13:07

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