Eden Council is to take £50,000 from its reserves to fund early completion of work on plans for the creation of a unitary authority in northern Cumbria which would also include Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland.
:An online meeting of Eden’s executive, held last Tuesday, heard that consultation on changes to councils in the county had been expected to take place in the new year.
However, a letter received on 9th October from Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, instead asked for outline proposals on the issue by 9th November and final ones a month later.
Council leader Virginia Taylor (Lib Dem, Penrith) said this meant considerably more work would have to be done by officers from Eden, Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland, so she was recommending that the budget for this be increased from £25,000 to £50,000.
Mark Ruddhall (Lib Dem, Penrith) said the country was facing a second wave of coronavirus, yet Eden was being asked to spend officers’ time and taxpayers’ money on something which was ‘central government folly’.
He added: “That £50,000 central government wants us to spend on local government reorganisation would be much better spent elsewhere — it would be much more productive.”
Ms Taylor said she believed government ministers agreed with this to a large extent, but felt the reorganisation should proceed in the three areas of the country — including Cumbria — which had expressed enthusiasm for reform.
“For right or wrong, it seems we must go along with what we cannot resist,” she added.
The executive voted for council officers to go ahead with work on the proposals, and the withdrawal of the £50,000 to pay for this.