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Cumbria renews judicial review bid over local government reorganisation

Cumbria County Council has renewed its application for a judicial review of the government's plans to divide the county into two east-west unitary councils.

The leader of the council, Cllr Stewart Young, announced this week that the local authority had made a renewal application asking for the opportunity for its barrister to make oral representations to the judge, "whose previous view was based solely on his reading of the submitted papers".

Cllr Young added: "I think we have a duty to pursue this, given that the councils have been told it is going to cost £19m just to draw up plans as to how this can be done, plans which should have been drawn up before the proposal was put forward, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the savings which Copeland and Allerdale said would be achieved as a result of splitting the county in two, estimated at between £19.1m and £31.6m per annum, will not be achieved."

Cumbria's Cabinet supported the creation of a single unitary authority for the entire county, in opposition to the decision of the then Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government - now titled the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - to split the county into two unitary authorities covering East and West Cumbria respectively.

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The Secretary of State's proposed East unitary council will cover the areas of Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland, and the West unitary will cover the areas of Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland.

In October last year, the Cabinet's efforts to bring the judicial review were delayed by a call-in by Cumbria's conservative-led scrutiny committee.

Opposition was also voiced in a previous full council meeting which resolved that it would be a "waste of public money and time".

Adam Carey

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