The Government is chomping at the bit to tear up the status quo on how Cumbria works.

Led by Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, the Conservative Government is ploughing ahead with an ambitious goal to overturn the last half a century in the county, and bring a flavour of London, Manchester and an increasing number of other big cities to Cumbria.

In short, Westminster wants to scrap the seven existing councils in Cumbria, replace them with as little as two, and sit atop the new structure a directly-elected mayor.

Unlike most of the current mayors seen in Cumbria arriving to official openings with heavy gold chains around their necks – a largely ceremonial position – this new elected mayor would have significant powers, like Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham or London’s Sadiq Khan.

These powers might include dominion over roads, public transport, economic development and the emergency services.

Perhaps the biggest change, though, if the Government is to get its way, is that this new Cumbria-wide leader would be directly elected, like the US President.

If this sounds familiar, that is because a similar settlement was a serious proposition in 2016, but the plans fell apart after agreement on how to proceed escaped the council leaders at the time.

But early indications suggest a serious intent on the part of the Government – and many of the county’s politicians – to this time make it work.

Detailed talks between Cumbrian councils and the civil service are expected in the next few weeks.

Fans of the proposal say this gives people in Cumbria more control over who leads them.

Leading the calls for this revolution is Mr Berry, the Northern Powerhouse minister. It is his job to drive economic growth in the north of England, and he, along with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, sees the introduction of elected mayors and streamlined council structures as a key part of this.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that we should seek mayoral combined authorities across the entirety of the north of England,” Mr Berry said.

He described talks he held in Penrith with Cumbria’s council leaders last week as “open-hearted and open-handed”.

“I hope that we will shortly be able to progress further devolution deals and discussions across Cumbria,” he said.

With Cumbria County Council being responsible for the likes of schools, social care and major roads, and each of the six district councils responsible for things like street lights, planning applications and waste collection, few disagree that the current council set-up is confusing.

But some have worries about Mr Berry’s plan.

Labour county councillor and member of the House of Lords, Roger Liddle, has expressed concerns over what he sees as the inflexibility of Mr Berry’s aims for Cumbria.

One key issue for Lord Liddle is his understanding that “the Government could not possible consider” the prospect of redrawing the current Cumbrian boundaries.

“That is an illogical rule for ministers to adopt in trying to create a logical local government structure,” he said.

Lord Liddle said he would like to see a new south Cumbrian local authority include Lancaster and Morecambe Bay – reflecting the fact that the Barrow area was historically part of the northern segment of Lancashire.

He also expressed reservations about the indication that only one Cumbria-wide elected mayor would be considered, rather than one for each of the two new local authorities.

“What is the logic of it? Why is that thought to be an essential part of effective local government reorganisation?” he said.

Stressing that he is not against the idea of elected mayors, Lord Liddle instead emphasised that he wanted to see that any changes to government in Cumbria were truly appropriate for Cumbria.

“I do not see why [elected mayors] have automatically to be part of a scheme to revitalise local democracy.”

Copeland’s mayor Mike Starkie – himself directly elected – has been more enthusiastic about the Government’s devolution plans.

“We should have taken the 2016 deal, and we certainly shouldn’t pass on this opportunity now,” Mr Starkie said.

He said a directly-elected mayor would bring greater “accountability and democracy” to Cumbria, though he acknowledged that what was being talked about was a very ambitious timescale.

“The hope from Westminster is that we will be able to have this put together in time for the May 2021 elections,” Mr Starkie said. “That is a very tight timescale, but I can’t see why it’s not impossible if all parties involved agree.”

Another Cumbrian council leader looking forward to swift action on these changes is John Mallinson, Carlisle City Council’s leader.

He said the most sensible way forward would be a north and south split, given the close relationship Carlisle has with towns like Workington and Penrith – much more than with south Cumbrian towns like Barrow.

“I think Carlisle has enough similarities with its neighbours in north Cumbria to work well with its neighbours,” Mr Mallinson said. “I can’t see us doing anything other than strengthen each other. It’ll be a partnership, not a takeover. It will help bring clarity to local government.”

Carlisle’s MP John Stevenson said as well as the clarity brought by more “streamlined” government in Cumbria, an elected mayor had the potential to be a “unifying figure”.

“An elected mayor would function as that clear first port of call for businesses or Westminster to discuss Cumbria-focused issues,” he said.

“That would bring so much more coordination, drive and direction to politics in Cumbria.”

However, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron challenged that view, saying the benefits of devolution could be lost if decision-making was invested in one person, in one place.

“If local people are actually going to feel the benefits of devolution, we need to see decisions being made in our local towns and villages,” he said.

The alternative, he added, is decisions affecting Cumbrians being made “by one person sat in an office at the other end of the county.”