Celebrating One Year, One Cumberland

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The first of April 2024 marks one year since Cumberland Council came into being. The bringing together of four councils from the former Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council, Copeland Borough Council and Allerdale Borough Council.

The creation and development of Cumberland council has been both and adventure and a journey with many achievements and challenges along the way. Senior Council Leaders want to express their thanks to the 4,500 staff, partners and communities for their continued support over the last 12 months.

Cllr Mark Fryer, Leader of Cumberland Council, shares his reflections of the year, saying:

“As a new organisation, with a new plan and new ambitions, over the last 12 months, integrating four councils into one, stabilising the organisation so that essential services continued to be delivered effectively has been a top priority.

“Council officers and elected Members alike have embraced opportunities to do things differently, to think differently and to get closer to communities and really listen and respond to their local needs. Our eight Community Panels and Networks are testament to this, which have already awarded almost £350,000 to more than 120 community projects aligned with local priorities. 

“At the heart of Cumberland Council's mission is a commitment to enhancing the health and wellbeing of our residents while striving to bring about positive outcomes for local communities. The adoption of our new strategic food framework last year which champions the Right to Food along with supporting the local food economy to be inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and fair for everyone is a real example of this.

“I’m delighted that Cumberland is among a select few areas awarded a portion of £55 million by the National Institute for Health and Care Research. This invaluable support will enable our officers to pioneer preventive, evidence-based approaches to comprehensively address the challenges faced by our residents.

“Cumberland’s schools have seen a big boost over the last 12 months too. With the opening of new sixth form provision for students with special educational needs in Whitehaven and Carlisle and substantial investments in school infrastructure maintenance across the patch, totalling around £3.7 million.

“Ensuring equitable opportunities for every child, irrespective of where they live, is so very important. To this end, a thorough review of our Cumberland’s Children and Family Wellbeing Services is well underway, focusing on early intervention and prevention strategies and working closely with families at a much earlier stage to try and address and tackle issues proactively.

“When people are vulnerable, our services will support them to live well and we’ve seen a substantial investment in the council’s in-house care provision this year with £2.3m spent on refurbishments at Eskdale House in Longtown, focusing on specialist dementia care and providing modern, state-of-the-art, high quality care facilities.

“The progress of the 8km Carlisle Southern Link Road has been remarkable since work started in June last year, with considerable earthworks, bridge lifts and culverts completed. The new road will unlock economic inclusive growth in Carlisle through the creation of jobs, attracting businesses to invest, reducing congestion, and creating the infrastructure to support the building of the St Cuthberts Garden Village. Importantly, more than 83.5% of the contractors working on the site are based within one hour of Carlisle which is providing a fantastic boost for the local economy and many local businesses.

“We’ve also embarked on various multi-million-pound regeneration initiatives, aimed at revitalising our towns and city for the collective benefit of residents, businesses, and visitors alike. Substantial investments have also been made to improve Cumberland's extensive road network which spans around 3,400km. This includes large-scale resurfacing schemes, innovative solutions to fix potholes, flood prevention measures, and improvements to pedestrian and cycling routes."

Cllr Fryer continued to say:

“It’s been an incredibly busy year and one that I look back on with great pride. Pride in the work we’ve done within our communities and vast pride for our 4,500 employees who have worked tirelessly to continue to work, day in, day out to deliver fantastic services to the people of Cumberland. Despite the changes and challenges they have faced in coming together to work for a brand-new organisation, their dedication and loyalty towards delivery of our public services is exemplary."

Andrew Seekings, Chief Executive of Cumberland Council added:

“One of the highlights for me over the last year has been the development of our Cumberland Council staff culture. In particular, how we’ve used our new values and behaviours to drive forward how we want the council to work. Whether staff had a whole career in one of our legacy organisations or have joined us a new recruit they have each played an instrumental part and contributed to our successes and I want to extend sincere thanks to each and every one of them.

“As I look back at the breadth and range of achievements over the year, I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved. From investing millions in our capital programme and regeneration schemes to providing 10p swims for Cumberland children and everything in between, it’s been quite a year!”