To consider the decision of Council on 8 December 2020, along with Barrow Borough and Lancaster City Councils, to submit a full proposal for a Bay area unitary authority and receive an update on consultation responses (Appendices 1 and 2 to follow).
Copies of Appendices 1 and 2 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 19 March 2021.
The Leader of the Council and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder reported that at the meetings on 5 November 2020 Cabinet and Council had authorised the submission of an outline proposal to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The outline proposal was agreed by Lancaster City and Barrow Borough Councils and submitted by the required deadline of 9 November 2020. Since that date, work had continued on the development of the proposal which was submitted by the deadline of 9 December 2020.
The Leader informed Members that the Government had decided to consult on all four proposals for Local Government Reorganisation and that the Council would be providing a response to the other proposals. He highlighted the extensive consultation being undertaken by the Council to reach out to stakeholders as well as members of the public and that other proposals were set out in the report, which included the following:-
· The Bay and North Cumbria;
· Two unitary in Cumbria;
· Eden, Carlisle and Allerdale/ Copeland, Barrow and South Lakeland (proposed by Carlisle and Eden as North and South unitaries’);
· Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland/ Barrow, South Lakeland and Eden (proposed by Allerdale and Copeland Councils as East and West unitaries); and
· Single Unitary for Cumbria (proposed by Cumbria County Council).
The Leader of the Council and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder informed Members that the final submission would be taken from the wording of the documents attached at Appendix 1 and 2 to the report, with minor amendments being made by the Chief Executive. He confirmed that any major changes would be brought back to Council for a decision before the final submission date of 19 April 2021. The Leader of confirmed that the Council would not be submitting a response to the proposals for North Yorkshire.
No questions having been raised, the Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed. There was no dissent.
RESOLVED – That:-
(1) The update on the consultation process following submission of the Bay Unitary Proposal was received;
(2) The approach of the Council to the consultation responses as outlined in the report and Appendix 1 was endorsed;
(3) The approach to submitting additional commentary on The Bay and North Cumbria proposal as outlined in Appendix 2 was endorsed; and
(4) The Chief Executive , in consultation with the Leader was authorised to finalise the response to the consultation for submission to the Ministry of Housing , Communities and Local Government by the 19th April 2021 deadline.
Reasons for Decision
Supporting our economy to thrive and benefit all our residents. It supports the outcome that our Borough will have a strategic role within Cumbria and as part of the Lancaster and South Cumbria City Region. A unitary authority will support improving all outcomes for the Borough.
There is an option not to submit a proposal. This would mean that the opportunity and benefits of a unitary council, based on the footprint of the three councils, would not be considered by Government alongside other proposals submitted. The full proposal indicates the benefits and opportunities which could be realised for residents and businesses. These would be foregone if a proposal were not submitted. By not submitting a proposal, the Council would significantly reduce its influence in the reorganisation of local government. This option is not recommended.