Residents are being reassured that key services will continue to operate as they do now when a new council starts life on 1 April.
In the biggest change to Cumbria’s council structures since 1974, two new ‘unitary’ councils are being formed, to replace the existing set-up of six district councils and Cumbria County Council.
Westmorland and Furness Council will officially take over responsibility for all services across the Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland areas from 1 April and the existing Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District councils, along with Cumbria County Council, will be dissolved.
Leader of Westmorland Furness Council, Councillor Jonathan Brook, says that thanks to months of careful preparations the transition to the new council in just over two weeks should have no impact on service delivery.
Councillor Brook commented: “Creating a brand new council from scratch is a huge undertaking and has taken an incredible amount of hard work, since Government announced its decision to create two new unitary councils for Cumbria in July 2021.
“Westmorland and Furness Council will be England’s third largest unitary authority by area, delivering services to 225,000 people across nearly 4,000 square kilometres – everything from waste and recycling collections to children’s services, planning, highways and adult social care.
“We have taken great care to make sure your current services are maintained, when we transition to the new council on 1 April – which means that things like bin collection days stay the same and you can still contact us for help and report issues.’’
Councillor Brook continued: “We are ambitious for the future and our Council Plan sets out how we want to look at ways to improve, develop and transform our services over the coming years.
“We believe that bringing all these different services ‘under one roof’, gives us a great opportunity to make them more joined up, efficient and effective. We are determined to make changes that both improve service and deliver better value for money.
“This level of service transformation, across such a significant area like Westmorland and Furness, will not happen overnight. It will be a complex process and will involve careful and rigorous planning and negotiation. We can’t commence that work in earnest until we have control of these services from 1 April.
“So until we can make improvements, we will ensure the services our communities receive will continue without disruption.’’
Service transformation priorities for the new council include looking at waste and recycling collections, to ensure these are harmonised and residents receive the same service wherever they live in Westmorland and Furness.
Pending the outcome of that work, waste and recycling collection arrangements in the current Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland council areas will operate as they do now, which means they will continue to be delivered by the same people and vehicles, the same containers will be used to collect the same materials and collection days will remain the same.
Councillor Brook added: “We believe that creating a brand new council provides us with a huge opportunity to create a fresh vision for our area, to make Westmorland and Furness a great place to live, work and thrive.
“Following the transition to the new council, we will be able to really start to develop those ambitions and fully intend to work with our residents, customers and communities over the next few years to deliver the very best outcomes.’’
To read more about Westmorland and Furness Council’s vision, priorities and values, see the Council Plan page at www.westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk