Second and third quotes of the day 11th August 2021

It is not a common occurence that I agree with Cumbria's Lib Dems.

But I do agree with their comments opposing the idea that Cumbria County Council should seek a judicial review of the planned new local government structure for Cumbria.

The county council has sent an intial legal notification called a "pre-action protocol" which does not actually start a judicial review but can potentially be the first step in the process - effectively servicing notice that the Cumbria CC is considering such a challenge. 

As has all too often happened over the past few years it would appear that the decision, while taken in the name of council officers, was actually a unilateral decision by the Labour leader of the council, Stewart Young, who does not appear to have consulted any other elected councillors. 

Peter Thornton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cumbria County Council, said: “We have just 18 months to create two new Cumbrian councils from the seven existing councils.

“The county council Liberal Democrat Group believe that we should be concentrating on this task rather than expending time and money challenging the Government’s decision.”

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, said: “Launching a legal challenge against the reorganisation plans will be a waste of public money and time and I would strongly urge Stewart Young to reconsider.

“Liberal Democrats in Cumbria passionately believe that we should instead be focusing on serving local residents and concentrating on working on the issues that matter to them like jobs, schools, social care and the environment.”

Seeking a judicial review can only create more uncertainty and loss of morale among council staff while iverting attention from the challenge of building the new structure in a way which fixes some of the problems with local government in Cumbria.


Gary Bullivant said…
For what it is worth, I do too. But I also share the concern that to go for a "metro" mayor as part of the package is inappropriate. This should be a matter for the two unitary authorities to decide for themselves after they have been created. Watching Ben Houchen dive headlong into a matter that rightly belonged to one of the Teeside unitary councils, and making himself look like a bit of a plank in the process, was a topical reminder of the risks.
Chris Whiteside said…
A lot of people support building a Metro Mayor into the new structure - and I am one of them.

Howeverm as I understand the position the government plan to do exactly what you suggest and letting the new authorities decide whether to bid for a metro mayor when they have been elected in shadow form next year.
Gary Bullivant said…
A County Deal and a DE Mayor for Cumberland will serve us much better than a "Rural" Mayor based in Kendal or wherever. That's a discussion for later but there are meant to be elections in May. Is it fixed that the Wards will follow the CCC EDs with the number of Councillors per Ward used to ensure numerical equity? Or is there a WG somewhere tasked with proposing boundary changes to Mr Jenrick and Parliament?
Chris Whiteside said…
I certainly want to see a devolution deal for Cumbria and a metro mayor and hope the new authorities will agree to bid for one when they are elected in shadow form in May.

I believe this will have to be done on existing county divisions because they are the only consistent set of boundaries throughout the county which are in place now and there is not time for a rewarding exercise to be done for elections in May 2022.

The government has been talking to the seven existing authorities about options to do this. My preferred option would be to use the existing 84 county divisions as two-member wards in 2022, which would create two authorities about the same size as the present CCC, but then hold a full boundary review and come down from 80 or 90 members for the first term to about sixty for the second.

However, the possibility of using some sort of hybrid of borough and county divisions has not yet been ruled out, though I hope it soon will be. It is also looking quite possible that they will decide to elect one member of the relevant new unitary authority from each of the existing county divisions.

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