Councillors on the new Westmorland and Furness Council have been getting to know their new ‘patch’ and are promising to consider all parts of the authority area equally.
Newly-elected members of the council’s ruling executive were in Barrow on Friday for their first Cabinet meeting, and took the opportunity to meet Barrow councillors, as well as borough and county council officers, and to go on a tour of the Barrow district, including taking in the Dock Museum, one of the Town Deal investment sites at Earnse Bay, the Marina Village and some of the council’s housing stock.
The Cabinet meetings are being rotated around all three districts that make up the new Westmorland and Furness Council area, with the next meeting in July planned for Kendal in South Lakeland and then the following Cabinet heading to Penrith in the Eden District Council area.
Westmorland and Furness Council Deputy Leader Councillor Patricia Bell explained: “It is important that we get out and about and really get to understand the new authority area.
“We are rotating the Cabinet meetings and taking the opportunity while we are in different areas to meet with local representatives and go on a familiarisation tour getting to understand the nature, challenges and opportunities in local communities.
“We are determined to be an inclusive council and want to ensure that all parts of Westmorland and Furness are treated equally.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity with this new council to build something that really delivers for all of our residents, businesses and organisations, looking at the ways we deliver services to make sure they are more joined-up and efficient, that our communities are at the heart of everything that we do and that we make sure our priorities match our communities’ needs.’’
Westmorland and Furness Council will act in ‘shadow’ form for the next 10 months, as its councillors engage in the planning and preparation for Vesting Day on 1 April 2023.
1 April 2023 is the point where Westmorland and Furness Council and its councillors will officially take over responsibility for all services across the Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland areas and the existing Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District councils, along with Cumbria County Council, will be dissolved.
Until April 2023 all current services will continue to be delivered by the existing councils, overseen by the councillors on those councils.
In the meantime, councillors on the Shadow Authority for Westmorland and Furness Council will be working with the Local Government Reorganisation programme planning for the new council to ‘go live’ in 2023.
Items on the agenda at Friday’s Cabinet meeting in Barrow included an update on the programme’s work and approving an Implementation Plan for Westmorland and Furness Council, which includes the vision, approach and values that will shape the development of the new authority over the coming months.
The first meeting of the Cabinet for the Shadow Authority of Westmorland and Furness Council follows local elections in May. Councillors were elected to serve a five year term with the first year on the shadow council. Westmorland and Furness Council has 65 councillors representing 33 wards.