Cumbria Unitarisation (including a proposal involving the City of Lancaster)

Closed 19 Apr 2021

Opened 22 Feb 2021


Residents and businesses in Cumbria are currently served by a two-tier system of local government. Cumbria County Council is responsible for services such as adult and children’s social care, maintaining roads and libraries, and the Councils – Allerdale Borough, Barrow Borough, Carlisle City, Copeland Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District - are responsible for services such as rubbish collection, housing and planning and environmental health.

The seven councils in Cumbria have been developing ideas about restructuring local government for some time and requested an invitation from the Secretary of State to submit proposals for unitary local government – a single tier of local government delivering all of the local government services for the area. On 9 October 2020 the Secretary of State invited the seven Cumbria councils to submit locally led proposals for unitary local government.

The Secretary of State received four proposals from councils in Cumbria:

The two councils - Allerdale and Copeland – jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: West Cumbria comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City and Copeland Borough Councils  and East Cumbria comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District Councils.

The two councils - Barrow and South Lakeland  – jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: 'The Bay' comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, South Lakeland District and Lancaster City Councils and North Cumbria comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough, Carlisle City, Copeland Borough and Eden District Councils.

The two councils - Carlisle and Eden  – jointly submitted a proposal for two unitary councils: North Cumbria comprising the area covered by Allerdale Borough,  Carlisle City and Eden District Councils and South Cumbria comprising the area covered by Barrow Borough, Copeland Borough and South Lakeland District Councils.

Cumbria County Council submitted a proposal for a single unitary council for the area of Cumbria County.

The links to all proposals are at the bottom of the page in Related Links

You can respond to any or all of the proposals.



Why we are consulting

We welcome the views of all those interested in these proposals, including local residents, town and parish councils, businesses and the voluntary sector. 

Before implementing a proposal, the Secretary of State is required to consult any local authority that is affected by the proposal (but which has not submitted it), and any such other persons as he considers appropriate.  

The Secretary of State is therefore consulting the councils which made the proposals, other councils affected by the proposals and the councils in neighbouring areas which may be affected by the proposals.   

He also considers it appropriate to consult public service providers, including health providers and the police, Local Enterprise Partnerships, and certain other business, voluntary sector and educational bodies. A full list of the named consultees is at Annex B in the consultation document - see link at the bottom of this page to the full consultation document.

Please use the link below to respond to the consultation, but if you prefer you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to

If you are responding in email or writing, please make it clear which area and questions you are responding to.  Written responses should be sent to:

Governance Reform and Democracy

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

2 Marsham Street



If you are replying by email or post, please would you confirm whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and indicate the nature of the organisation and include:

  • your name, 

  • Are you responding as a resident or on behalf of an organisation? Please indicate as below: 

    • Resident living in area affected 

    • Resident not living in area affected 

    • Business organisation

    • Education organisation

    • Local government organisation - principal council

    • Local Government organisation - parish/town council

    • Local Government organisation - other

    • Police organisation

    • Fire organisation

    • Health organisation

    • Other 

  • your position in the organisation and what is the organisation's name (if applicable), 

  • an email address 

The Government is also consulting on local government reform in North Yorkshire and Somerset – see links below

What happens next

The Secretary of State is consulting on these proposals before he has made any assessment of the merits of the proposals. He will consider all of these proposals carefully, the responses he receives to this consultation, all representations he receives and all other relevant information, and assess the proposals against the criteria below before reaching his decision on which proposals, if any, to implement. 

a. Is it likely to improve local government and service delivery across the area of the proposal, giving greater value for money, generating savings, providing stronger strategic and local leadership, and more sustainable structures; 

b. Does it command a good deal of local support as assessed in the round overall across the whole area of the proposal; and

c. is it a credible geography consisting of one or more existing local government areas with an aggregate population which is either within the range 300,000 to 600,000, or such other figure that, having regard to the circumstances of the authority, including local identity and geography, could be considered substantial.

The Secretary of State may decide, subject to Parliamentary approval, to implement a proposal with or without modification, or to not implement any proposal for an area. He may also seek advice from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. If any proposals are to be implemented, we would expect new unitary councils to take on full council role from April 2023, with the transitional arrangements in 2022-23 to support a smooth implementation.

The Secretary of State’s decisions will be communicated to the councils as soon as practicable.