Have your say on a proposal to create a new unitary authority around Morecambe Bay

Last month the Government invited a small number of local government areas across England, including Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Somerset, to come up with proposals for new ways of supporting local communities, known as local government reorganisation (LGR) inviting submissions on ‘locally-led proposals for unitary government’ in those areas . This would replace the existing tiers of County and District councils with a single tier (or level) of local government. The Government has announced plans to introduce these new councils across England. The whole of Cumbria is in the first wave of these.

In response, Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland have submitted proposals for a new local authority, known as The Bay. We believe the Bay area is unique, with shared opportunities and challenges, and would be better served by a more local authority. The alternatives include a single council for the whole of Cumbria, proposed by Cumbria County Council. For Lancaster, Lancashire County Council has proposed merging with Ribble Valley, Wyre, Fylde and Blackpool.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the three district 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:

“We agreed to submit the outline proposal at Full Council meetings last week and now we are inviting people to have their say on the idea. The feedback from this engagement will form an important part of the more detailed final submission to Government, which we need to send in by 9 December. It is a short timeframe and conducting a consultation exercise during a pandemic lockdown is not ideal, especially as we are already extremely busy with the Civid-19 response, but we are working to the Government’s timetable.

We have set up an online survey, have commissioned independent polling and are inviting people to email or write in with their views and comments. It’s important that people have their say, whether they agree or disagree with the proposals, as any local government reorganisation will have significant implications for our communities and the way services are delivered. We need to understand people’s views and any concerns and challenges they believe the creation of a new unitary may bring. We firmly believe that the option of a Bay unitary, linking up our three councils, has the potential to deliver the best outcomes for our communities.

We shouldn’t be constrained by lines on a map. We should be looking to a solution that offers the most positive benefits for our communities, one that builds on existing relationships and connections, one that is ambitious and supports innovation and sustainable economic prosperity. We already share a postcode and a mutual history due to, either whole or in part, being within the boundary of the old county of Lancashire before the last major wave of local government reorganisation in 1974.

We also have a shared health footprint, a shared economic and social geography and shared ambitions around critical issues like meeting the climate emergency and tackling wealth and health inequalities. We already have a strong track record working together and our detailed submission will highlight the undoubted opportunities that even closer working between our three councils could deliver.”

We therefore invite you to take part in the survey. The link to the survey is here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JYMB9DH

You can also email or write your views:

Email: thebay@lancaster.gov.uk

In writing:

The Bay proposal
Lancaster City Council
Lancaster Town Hall
Dalton Square
Lancaster LA1 1PJ

Yours sincerely,

Community Connectors
Lancaster City Council

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