Morecambe Bay unitary authority plans advance

The bid to bring together South Lakeland District Council, Barrow Borough Council and Lancaster City Council has been accepted by the government for further review.

The district councils of Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland and the county council in Cumbria are hoping to combine to form a new single-tier unitary authority. It would deliver the services currently provided by both the district and county councils such as waste and recycling collections, public realm, planning, highways and transport and adult and children’s social care.

The government will now get in touch with key stakeholders and organisations to gather views on the proposal. The consultation is open to businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations and members of the public who live, work or study in South Lakeland, Barrow and Lancaster, and will close on 19 April.

The joint proposal for a new Bay authority already received strong support locally when it was unveiled late last year. A joint online survey, independent opinion poll, a number of well-attended virtual engagement events with community groups, businesses, parish and town councils and young people and feedback from more than 4,000 respondents demonstrated overwhelming backing for a Bay unitary.

In a joint statement, the Leaders of the three councils, Councillor Ann Thomson from Barrow Borough Council, Councillor Dr Erica Lewis from Lancaster City Council and Councillor Giles Archibald from South Lakeland District Council, said: "It is clear that the government wishes to replace the existing two-tier system of county and district councils with a new unitary model where there is a single tier. If that is the case then we firmly believe The Bay unitary is the most ambitious, forward-thinking and rational plan for our areas, based on strong existing community and economic links and a credible geography.

"We have made a powerful case to government and have demonstrated strong local support for The Bay. We have a shared vision and purpose and we now need to make sure that government is left in no doubt that our residents, businesses and organisations all believe that a Bay unitary is the best option."

Members of the public will be able to offer their opinions via an online survey at https://consult.communities.gov.uk/governance-reform-and-democracy/cumbria, or by email at unitaryconsultation@communities.gov.uk

  • For further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.