Issue - meetings

Local Government Reorganisation

Meeting: 01/09/2021 - Cabinet (Item 37)

Local Government Reorganisation

To receive and consider a verbal update on progress relating to Local Government Reorganisation.

Minutes:

Note – Councillor Roger Bingham, a dual-hatted Member with an Other Registrable Interest, remained in the room during discussion and voting on the item, although with no voting rights as a Shadow Executive Member.

 

Summary

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder highlighted some of the key points in respect of the Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) process.

 

The decision of the Secretary of State (SOS) had been received on 21 July 2021.

 

The SOS now intended to seek Parliamentary approval for the necessary secondary legislation to implement the two unitary, East-West proposal.  To achieve this, a draft Structural Changes Order (SCO) would be laid in Parliament around the turn of the year and that would include provision for appropriate transitional arrangements, including for elections in May 2022 for the future unitary councils and for those councils to assume the full range of local authority responsibilities on 1 April 2023, when predecessor councils, including South Lakeland District Council, would be abolished.

 

In the intervening period, Cumbria County Council (CCC) had issued a pre-action protocol letter in respect of a proposed claim by CCC for a Judicial Review of the decision of the SOS, to create two new unitary authorities for the county of Cumbria.

 

A response from Government to this letter was awaited and then for CCC’s subsequent decisions in this respect.  However, because the timetable was so tight, work towards delivering a successful outcome for the LGR process could not be stopped.

 

A Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the LGR programme had been agreed to be the new County Council Chief Executive Officer, namely Gillian Steward.  The programme covered all seven councils in Cumbria.

 

The SRO had gone on to establish lead Chief Executive Responsibilities and Task and Finish groups within the programme.  Weekly Leaders, Chief Executive and Joint Leaders and Chief Executive Meetings had also now been established and the work programme was beginning to take shape.

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder turned to the SCO.  This was the statutory instrument through which the SOS’s decision became legislation.  The SCO had to be approved by both Houses of Parliament, after which time it could be made and brought into effect as law.  This part of the process normally took around seven to eight weeks.

 

There were some provisions which needed to be included in the SCO such as:-

 

·         the setting up of the new authorities, and shadow authorities for the period prior to the implementation date; and

 

·         the dissolution of the existing authorities and the role of both the shadow authorities and the existing authorities in preparing for implementation.

 

There were other provisions which would be included, but where further discussion would be required, such as the names of the new authorities and the election arrangements, such as the number of councillors, geography and names of wards and number of councillors for each ward.  Also, the term of councillors and future election dates.  In this respect the Ministry of Housing, Communities  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37