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Final proposals for unitary patterns of local government in the two-tier areas of Cumbria are being submitted to the Deputy Prime Minister today. The recommendations from The Boundary Committee for England mark the end of an independent review which began in June 2003. The Committee has set out two options for patterns of unitary authorities in the county.
A single unitary authority comprising the whole of Cumbria county area:
The districts of Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle City, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland would all be abolished and their functions transferred to Cumbria County Council, which would be renamed Cumbria Council.
Two unitary authorities based on combinations of existing districts:
Cumbria County Council and the districts of Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle City, Copeland, Eden, South Lakeland and Lancaster City (from Lancashire) would all be abolished. Their functions would be transferred to two new unitary districts, to be named North Cumbria (comprising Allerdale, Carlisle City, Copeland and Eden) and Morecambe Bay (comprising Barrow-in-Furness and South Lakeland, and Lancaster City from Lancashire).
The year-long exercise in the North West, which was also conducted in the North East and Yorkshire & the Humber regions saw the Committee reviewing those areas where there are currently two tiers of local government, both district and county councils. The Committee was directed to propose at least two options for patterns of local government based on a single tier of councils, known as unitary authorities. Retaining current structures was not an option. At a later date, all people living in the three northern regions will be asked to decide in a referendum if they want an elected regional assembly. Those living in the two tier areas, such as Cumbria, will be asked to make a further decision on which option for unitary local government they would prefer if a regional assembly is established.
The review included two rounds of public consultation, each lasting twelve weeks, during which time local authorities, stakeholders and interested parties were invited to submit their proposals for patterns of local government. Over 700 submissions were received from Cumbria. The Committee also commissioned MORI to undertake public opinion research on its draft proposals for the county. The research findings were published on 14 April 2004.
In considering options for unitary authorities, the Committee was guided by the Local Government Act 1992 and Guidance issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Key considerations included local authority capacity, geography, community leadership, representation and the ability for any new unitary authorities to become high performing, delivering quality services to local residents.
The Boundary Committee Chair, Pamela Gordon said, We have given full consideration to all the proposals and representations we have received. In the light of all the evidence put to us, we are satisfied that we are putting forward viable options for patterns of unitary local government in Cumbria.
Our principal objective has been to ensure our options offer realistic prospects of meeting the needs of people living in all the communities concerned through the creation of strong, sustainable and potentially high-performing unitary authorities.
Subject to the Deputy Prime Ministers decision on our final recommendations, electors in the two-tier areas of Cumbria will be able to vote on their preferred pattern for unitary local government in a referendum later in the year.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) is now responsible for deciding the outcome of the Committees recommendations and all further correspondence should be addressed to: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Zone 5/B1, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU. The Government will not take final decisions on the local government options for a period of six weeks from today (until 6 July 2004).
Notes to Editors:
Issued on behalf of The Boundary Committee by Weber Shandwick North. For further information, please contact:
Weber Shandwick North
2 Jordan Street
Tel: 0161 238 9416
Fax: 0161 228 3076
Boundary Committee press office
Senior Press Officer, Charmaine Colvin:
Tel: 020 7271 0700/07887 626 774
Assistant Press Officer, Elise Cross:
Tel: 020 7271 0530