Scrapping Cumbria's councils and creating one authority would save £36m a year
Last updated at 08:22, Monday, 21 October 2013
Scrapping district councils and creating a single Cumbria-wide unitary local authority could save up to £36 million a year.
That figure – and the issue of how the county should pay for its public services – came into focus as the county council unveiled plans to make £80m in cuts over the next three years.
It has prompted a fresh debate over whether Cumbria can afford to run seven local authorities.
With up to 600 county council jobs at risk, several senior politicians said that huge savings could be made by scrapping Cumbria’s “two-tier” local government structure, which includes six district councils, two national park authorities, and the county council.
Some including Carlisle’s Conservative MP John Stevenson – say the large number of councillors and officers involved in running the nine authorities makes no economic sense.
Ex-county council Leader Eddie Martin described the current local government structure as “economic insanity”.
He said: “Frankly, to continue as we are now, with 384 councillors all getting allowances; with nine chief executives; with nine human resources managers, and so on; is ludicrous. When it was last looked at five years ago, a unitary authority was opposed by the county’s MPs but we had a report which showed that once the transitional costs had been met, after the first three years, we would be making annual savings of £36m.”
Mr Stevenson said: “It’s my belief that at present we are living beyond our means, and we have to adjust accordingly.
“We also have to protect frontline services while cutting our overheads and at present there are far too many councillors and far too many councils. Moving to a unitary authority would produce substantial savings.
“It’s within the power of the district councils to get together and make a request to the government for unitary status and it could then be looked at favourably. But the Government won’t impose it.”
Stewart Young, Labour Leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “The logic of having a unitary authority in Cumbria is inescapable.
“We’d get savings of £20m or £30m by having a single council. Most of the country already has unitary authorities.”
Mr Young said the two-tier structure was “dysfunctional”.
The county council has drawn up a raft of proposals to save the £80m over three years, with a savings target for the first year of £24m.
First published at 08:16, Monday, 21 October 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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@Jonty - Read my post - It tells you that I'm not a council employee. I'm not a public sector employee. I work for a private company.
Can we just stop the nonsense that is Cumbria full stop? It's too big, it's pointless and I think people still primarily identify with the old pre-1974 set up of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire (Furness). People in Barrow have no affinity with people in the north of the county and likewise folks in Carlisle have none with those in Kendal. Abolish Cumbria and bring back the proper old counties - this is Cumberland NOT Cumbria.
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