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Local Government Reform information

The Government is actively driving a devolution agenda across the UK. To allow for powers and finance to be devolved from central Government to a local level, local authorities must exist that are large enough to receive them. The current two-tier system in Cumbria (of a county council with six districts each carrying out different services) does not offer this option.

Therefore, the Government has formally invited all seven Cumbrian authorities to submit their proposals for local government reform that would replace the current arrangements and create larger authorities in order to facilitate a future devolution deal. The Government has expressed a preference that local government reform will create a Directly Elected Mayor position for Cumbria.

Why are we proposing change?

  • The status quo cannot continue. It is not financially sustainable in the long-term, does not provide value for money, creates duplication, and is confusing for our residents.
  • A change is necessary to improve financial sustainability, remove duplication, increase collaboration between geographical areas and focus on integrated service delivery.
  • Without change, the Government’s levelling up and devolution agenda cannot take affect and Cumbria is in danger of being left behind.
  • The right platform and structure needs to be created to allow the area to prosper, unlock growth and to facilitate the levelling-up agenda through devolution.

What new model are we proposing?

Copeland Borough Council believes that current two-tier system of local government should be replaced with a new model; of two unitary authorities that carry out all the services in their respective areas, overseen by a combined authority with a Directly Elected Mayor. Copeland Council favours an east/west split in terms of the two-unitary structure; Copeland, Allerdale and Carlisle in a West Cumbria authority, and Eden, Barrow and South Lakeland in an East Cumbria authority. This model is supported by Allerdale Borough Council.

Why are we proposing a two-unitary model?

  • It will provide a strong, single voice for the area.
  • It will create a structure that is large enough to receive devolved powers, but small enough that important links with residents and businesses will be maintained.
  • It will provide leadership, local identity and accessibility; the leadership will be close to the people they represent
  • Copeland and Allerdale already have shared social and economic history, transport links and housing markets.

What happens next?

Copeland Council's outline proposal was submitted to the Government on November 9.  A proposal mirroring this was also sent by Allerdale Borough Council.

A full business cases with evidence and analysis must be sent to the Government by December 9.

A number of proposals - with different variations of the unitary model - are expected to be submitted to the Government for consideration.

The Government will then consider all proposals received and announce its preferred model in Spring 2021. A public consultation on the preferred model will follow.

Have your say

We have launched a survey to ask for your views on the process, and to establish your priorities in any new council structure. The deadline for responses is midday on Wednesday, December 2.