Significant steps were taken this week in the creation of the new Cumberland Council.
At their meeting in Carlisle on 20 July, Executive members for the Shadow Authority for Cumberland Council agreed on the future identity of the new council and the process for developing its overall vision, ambitions and key priorities.
As a result the council now boasts a new concept design for a logo. The preferred design takes its inspiration from the Cumberland Flag and features a Grass-of-Parnassus flower which is the county flower of Cumberland. It contains two parallel waved lines, representing the area’s fells and mountains, coast and lakes. The colours of blue and green also link to this natural theme.
It was whittled down from a number of options that were considered by officers and members. The final design has been created by a member of the design staff at Carlisle City Council, and reflects the vision of the new authority.
A series of focus group sessions will now take place to further refine the design and develop a corporate identity manual ahead of its adoption in the Autumn.
Councillors also agreed on the process for the development of the Council Plan. This crucial document will set out the vision and priorities for the Council for its first four years.
Residents are encouraged to have their say on the draft plan when it is published in a few weeks' time. The draft plan will also be considered by the Shadow Scrutiny committee ahead of adoption at the meeting of the Shadow Council on 18 October 2022.
Cllr Mark Fryer, Leader of the Shadow Authority for Cumberland Council, said: “We have today completed another major milestone in the formation of the new Cumberland Council. Our logo is really important as it will identify who we are and the services we deliver. It will also help bring the three areas together as it will appear on letterheads, vehicles, bins and our buildings. I think it is a fantastic design which reflects our shared heritage and ambitions for the future. I’m also really pleased that the designer is a member of staff – they should be very proud of what they have achieved.
“Our Council Plan is also extremely important. This is a document which sets out our stall and will go to the very heart of what our new council will be about. It will outline what we will focus on, describe how we will work and, crucially, what residents can expect from us. I look forward to developing the plan and hearing what local residents and partners have to say.”
Local government reorganisation means that the services of the six district councils and Cumbria County Council are brought under the control of two new unitary councils – Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council. This means bringing the services of the district councils together and the splitting, or otherwise, of the county council services.
The new councils will start providing services from vesting day on 1 April 2023.
Councillors therefore also agreed the baseline blueprint documents which outline how services can expect to be organised and operate effectively on vesting day. These also include details of any transitional arrangements and proposals for how services can be provided. Once established it will be for the new councils to decide any further transformation and reorganisation of its services.
Integral to the establishment of the new councils is the need to ensure they have a sustainable financial footing. Therefore, councillors also agreed the high-level principles which will underpin how the funding for the two new councils, as well as the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, will be allocated. The guiding principles mirror national funding allocations where possible to ensure that service need is reflected alongside more basic allocations such as population and geography. Councillors also agreed a timeline throughout the Autumn when key decisions on the budgets and a future budget strategy will be taken.
Cllr Fryer continued: “The blueprints and the financial planning are critical aspects of the creation of our new council. They set out how things will be run from day one and how the funding will be provided. There are clearly many challenges ahead, one of which is a potential budget gap. However, this gap is something which will be inherited from the existing councils and would have needed addressing anyway. There is also still a lot of detail to be finalised. What I would say is that by coming together as a unitary gives us the flexibility to make further transformational savings to address that gap. This remains an exciting and once in a lifetime opportunity to shape our services around the needs of our residents.
“What I am determined to do is involve those same residents and our communities in the decision-making process from setting out our priorities in the Council Plan, to agreeing the budget which will help fund them.”