Concern over Cumbria council merger plans

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Cumbria County Council, BotchergateImage source, Google
Image caption,
The move would see Cumbria County Council scrapped along with the six district councils

A new unitary authority for Cumbria "may not benefit" every area, a senior councillor has said.

The county council's cabinet has agreed to open talks with the government about merging with the six district councils.

It described the current arrangement as "very complex", and said a substantial amount of money could be saved by "rationalising" the system.

But Barrow Borough Council's leader David Pidduck said he feared his residents could lose out.

The move to open talks was welcomed by Bill Wearing, who chairs the county council's scrutiny management board - a cross-party committee of 14 members which holds the authority to account.

He said a move to a unitary council could create "greater financial efficiencies" and "streamlined services" for residents, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Worse situation'

However, Barrow council leader Mr Pidduck said: "I don't think it benefits the borough.

"It doesn't happen overnight, it could drag out for ages, it could present more costs than people realise and you have got to get it right.

"If you don't, you could end up in a worse situation than you started with."

County council leader Stewart Young said there was "overwhelming support" for "some sort" of unitary restructure.

"I think the principle is fairly well accepted, not unanimously, but the vast majority are in favour," he said.

"It is in the hands of government and I don't want to pre-empt the outcome, but we can only make our representations."