County council meets for final time after 50 years of service

Cumbria County Council met for the last time on Thursday (23 March) after almost 50 years of service to the people of Cumbria.

Councillors from all parties said their farewells, reflected on the achievements of the county council over the years and paid tribute to councillors John Bell and Arthur Lamb, who both sadly passed away earlier this year.

In July 2021, the government announced the county council, as well as the 6 district councils of Cumbria, will be replaced by two new unitary authorities – Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council.

Cumberland Council will take over responsibility for all council services within the Carlisle, Copeland and Allerdale areas of the county, and Westmorland and Furness Council taking responsibility for services within the Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland areas from 1 April 2023.

They also honoured 17 long-serving members of staff with more than 600 years of combined service between them – with at least 41 years’ service each.

Carol Mingins, a Business Support Administrator, is the longest-serving member of staff and has served the county for more than 56 years – working for both the current county council and the previous Cumberland County Council.

Carol joined Cumberland County Council back in March 1967 within the highways department before taking a permanent role in the Education department as an administrator with Cumbria County Council the last time local government was reorganised in Cumbria back in 1974.

Carol, reflecting on her long service, said: “I’ve worked with some lovely people over the years and feel fortunate to have been in a job I have thoroughly enjoyed – a testimony to my 56 years of service, I suppose.”

The county council was created in 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, replacing the administrative counties of Cumberland and Westmorland and the county borough of Carlisle. The areas they covered were combined with parts of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire to form a new non-metropolitan county called Cumbria.

Since then, the county council has been responsible for significant local services in the county, including education (schools, both primary and secondary), libraries and youth services, social services, highway maintenance, waste disposal, emergency planning, consumer protection, and town and country planning for minerals matters, waste and for highways. This makes it a substantial employer in the area.

County Council Chairman, Cllr Andy Connell, said: “It’s an emotional time for all who’ve served on the county council over the years.

“Back in 1974 when the county council was created, its leaders made a solemn vow to remember they are elected and appointed not for their own glory but for the service of all. I believe the current council and previous councils have done their utmost, in difficult circumstances at times, to serve the people of Cumbria.

“Some exceptional people have worked for this council during the last 50 years, and I’m so pleased we’ve been able to recognise their astonishing service at our meeting today.

“It’s sad to say farewell to so many good friends as we draw a close to the county council, but I wish the new councils all the best for the future as they take over the reins.”

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