Venue: Zoom Virtual Meeting
Contact: Ian Hinde 01900 702544
Declaration of Interests
Councillors/Staff to give notice of any disclosable pecuniary interest, other registrable interest or any other interest and the nature of that interest relating to any item on the agenda, in accordance with the adopted Code of Conduct.
Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria
The Head of Strategy, Policy and Performance delivered a presentation to members on Local Government Reorganisation (LGR). The presentation provided members with a summary and background on the LGR process, a summary of the activity undertaken to date and a summary of the activity to be undertaken in the coming weeks until the final submission date for proposals, (09 December 2020). Members were also advised on Devolution and the potential process following the deadline, which includes the implementation of a new authority from April 2022.
The preferred proposal for Allerdale Borough Council would be to have two unitary councils in Cumbria. One would operate on the existing footprint of Allerdale, Copeland and Carlisle Councils and one that would operate on the footprint of Barrow, South Lakes and Eden Councils. This model would provide an opportunity for devolution, would be close to the governments preferred minimum population target of 300k, and would create sustainable councils with a strong strategic voice.
The Head of Strategy, Policy and Performance then confirmed that other options were considered by the Executive, such as three Unitary Authorities of two, however, it was felt that these models did not meet the Government’s requirements.
The Monitoring Officer then provided an overview on the decision-making process, confirming that the LGR proposal decision is an Executive decision, not a decision for Full Council. The overall decision maker on LGR however is the secretary of state.
Members then asked questions of officers and debated the proposal.
Councillor Heaslip asked why the government white paper on government reorganisation was delayed but this process had not been, despite the pandemic, Brexit and the implication on staffing. He also argued that the population figure was not a legal requirement and that this proposal was being rushed without full support of the Councillors. Councillor Heaslip also sought clarity on what was meant by neighbourhood flexibility.
In response the Head of Strategy, Policy and Performance explained that the population figure and scheduling came from Government but could not confirm if the pandemic was a factor in the delay of the white paper. On neighbourhood flexibility, it was explained to members that government are looking for responsiveness and flexibility within services at local level.
Councillor Farebrother asked questions in relation to alternative options and preferred options. Officers clarified Allerdale’s preferred option but that alternative proposals will be submitted to the Government from neighbouring Councils.
Councillors Scott and Semple expressed similar concerns to Councillor Heaslip in relation to the timing of this process, which they expressed as not being ideal due to the ongoing global pandemic.
Members then asked questions in relation to efficiency and how this is measured. It was explained that financial sustainability and service delivery would be part of any efficiency metrics with the emphasis on providing the best for residents.
Councillor Greaney questioned why the LGR process had started without agreement from Full Council. In response Deputy Leader Councillor Johnson advised that Cumbria County Council had written to Government requesting LGR, and as it ... view the full minutes text for item 183.