To consider a proposal for a Bay Area Unitary Authority (Appendix 1 – Outline Proposal for a Bay Unitary Authority – to follow).
Copies of Appendix 1 to the report, which had been marked “to follow” on the agenda, had been circulated to Members and published on the Council’s Website on 2 November 2020.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder reported that, at its meeting on 6 October 2020, Council had authorised himself and the Chief Executive to work with Barrow Borough and Lancaster City councils to explore devolution, including the development of a high level case for a new unitary council for the area comprising the three districts. It had also been noted that the Secretary of State may then invite the Council to put forward a formal proposal which would be subject to future agreement.
Prior to consideration of a high level case, on the 9 October 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in exercise of his powers under Part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, had invited any principal authority in the area of the county of Cumbria to submit a proposal for a single tier of local government, in accordance with the following criteria:-
· by 9 November 2020, authorities must at least submit an outline proposal, and if a full proposal had not been submitted by that date, the full proposal must be submitted as soon as practicable thereafter and by no later than 9 December 2020;
· authorities must have regard to the guidance from the Secretary of State; and
· an authority may either make its own proposal or make a proposal jointly.
In exploring devolution around the Bay area, Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland Councils had now developed the initial work to prepare an outline proposal to meet the guidance set out by the Secretary of State in responding to an invitation.
The draft Outline Proposal formed Appendix 1 to the report. The Outline Proposal set out the rationale for developing a new unitary council. The proposal indicated the opportunities, strengths and strategic needs of the area’s communities and economy and how they may best be addressed through the leadership and resources of local government based on the geography of the functioning economic area and health services footprint.
In addition to structural change, the proposal indicated the benefits which could be realised through public service reform, within local government and collaboratively with other service providers. The area offered the population scale envisaged by the Government’s invite, with a population circa 320,000.
The proposal acknowledged the historic and current associations between places and communities across the Morecambe Bay area. This strengthened the rationale for the organisation of local government at a scale and footprint readily identified by residents and businesses. This enabled locally based, accessible and engaged local government.
The development of further information, proposal and detail would be identified and set out in an action plan to establish the Full Proposal. This would include, for example, further assessment of:-
· the degree of local support for the proposal;
· functions currently performed by the County Councils ... view the full minutes text for item 78