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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Carlisle MP urging ministers to create Cumbrian unitary councils

Carlisle MP John Stevenson was today calling on ministers to rip up the local government map of Cumbria and start again from scratch.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson photo
John Stevenson

The Conservative wants to do away with the two-tier system of district and county councils, which he says is wasteful, and replace it with a single tier of so-called ‘unitary authorities’.

Carlisle City Council, Allerdale, Copeland, Eden, Barrow and South Lakeland councils and Cumbria County Council would be swept away to be replaced, perhaps, by two councils for north and south Cumbria.

Mr Stevenson has secured a half-hour debate on Cumbrian local authorities this afternoon when he was hoping to get the backing of the other Cumbrian MPs.

His speech says: “In Cumbria we have seven councils, eight if you include the Lake District National Park, which has considerable authority. There are nearly 400 councillors with seven chief executives and seven senior management teams.

“There are six authorities responsible for collecting council tax, six different departments for planning issues and for property issues. All this regulation to serve a total population of half a million.

“Any substantial restructure would lead to substantial savings.”

But he accepts that, while it is a widespread view in Cumbria that the unitary system is better, there is no agreement about how many unitary councils there should be and where the boundaries should be drawn. He said: “There is a very simple solution to this.

“Ask central government to request that the Boundary Commission come in, review the present arrangements and come up with a proposal.”

The idea of scrapping two-tier local government in Cumbria is not new. The Banham review in 1993-4 suggested creating either two or three unitary authorities. The last Labour government also toyed with a shake-up.

Councillor Stewart Young, the Labour deputy leader of the county council, is backing Mr Stevenson’s call. He said: “The current system is dysfunctional, inefficient and wasteful.”

Have your say

"I wonder how many more jobs will be lost to West Cumbria and recreated in Carlisle/Penrith/Barrow if this gets off the ground."

Erm, Carlisle/Penrith/Barrow, these not West Cumbria then?

Posted by Chris on 12 July 2012 at 12:25

Makes a lot of sense but I think three would be the right number; Carlisle & north; Kendal & South and Barrow & west coast.

Posted by Simon Strickland on 12 July 2012 at 08:27

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