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CLEP Chair welcomes clarity on Local Government reorganisation

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) has welcomed publication of the Government’s plans for the reorganisation of local government structures within the county, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has outlined plans for two new unitary authority structures in Cumbria.

The introduction of unitary – or single tier – council structures will replace the County Council and the six District Councils that have served Cumbria since 1974.

It will mean that the seven existing councils will disappear and two new unitary authorities will be created, broadly based on an east-west split – one replacing the current Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland Local Authority areas and another replacing Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland Local Authority areas.

CLEP Chair Lord Inglewood said that the announcement will provide the necessary clarity for organisations and individuals to work together towards a post-COVID future.

He said: “Whilst it was inappropriate for CLEP, as an apolitical organisation, to have taken a view on the form of reorganisation as this was a decision for local and central government, it was entirely appropriate for CLEP to recognise that Local Government Reorganisation was a good thing for Cumbria, its citizens and its businesses.

“CLEP responded to government’s consultation making it clear that we welcomed Local Government Reorganisation as a mechanism to increase capacity and capability in Cumbria, deliver value for money and improve democratic participation and accountability.”

In its representation to Government, CLEP listed a set of 10 principles that members felt important for any organisation(s) that emerged from local government reorganisation, namely:

  • Accountability and Answerability – not only to the electorate but also to communities of interest and place;
  • Agility – to react and respond with pace where appropriate and with structures capable of dealing efficiently with both everyday matters and crises;
  • Capacity and Capability – to deliver effective unitary services with a skilled and effective workforce that operates in a transformatory way;
  • Efficiency – with structures that are cost effective, offer value for money and are organised to work productively;
  • Engagement – constructive and collaborative working with others in good faith in both public and private sectors and within and outside Cumbria;
  • Leadership – visible and pro-active yet tempered with sensitivity to local needs and traditions;
  • Relationship Management – providing a respected voice and reputation with central government, the Scottish Administration, local government and elsewhere, as appropriate;
  • User Friendliness – providing clear, navigable structures and services that are responsive to all service users from individuals to businesses with a modus operandi tempered towards the reasonable requirements of its users;
  • Value for Money – providing this for council taxpayers, business rate payers and the general taxpayer;
  • Viability – citizens and businesses must be able to rely on the long term provision of effective, timely and cost effective services.

At the turn of the year, a draft structural changes order will be laid in Parliament. This will include plans for the necessary transitional arrangements, including for elections in May 2022 for the future unitary councils.

Lord Inglewood said: “Now that this significant decision has been made about the form of local government for Cumbria going forward, it’s up to all of us to make it work and take forward these 10 principles.

“Cumbria LEP is committed to working collaboratively with local government colleagues to help deliver the new structure and to support the development of strong organisations that meet the needs of our economy, businesses and citizens.

“It’s only by working together that we can build back better and make sure that Cumbria has the best possible public services to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

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