[A] leading South Lakes councillor says Government Ministers still want a devolution deal for Cumbria and is urging the leaders of the county’s seven local authorities to get back to the negotiating table to unlock the hundreds of millions of pounds which devolution would secure.
Councillor James Airey has met with Ministers since the decision by five of the county’s seven local councils in 2016 to reject a £300 million deal for Cumbria that would have transferred extra power and responsibility locally.
Councillor Airey said: “The decision to walk away from a devolution deal is costing South Lakeland millions of pounds in funding and holding up spending on infrastructure improvements that are vital if our area is to capture the inward investment we need to secure good jobs and prosperity into the future.
“While Greater Manchester other parts of our region pull ahead through the devolution deals they have secured, Cumbria is at risk of being left in the investment slow-lane.
“The Ministers I have spoken to have been clear that the door is still open for Cumbria’s council leaders to secure a deal for our area.
“It is quite frankly shameful that local party politics has so far been allowed to get in the way of securing vital extra funds that could make a difference to the lives of people living in South Lakeland.
“If we want Cumbria to have control over its future, and hundreds of millions of pounds of devolved funding for transport, housing, skills and health, we need strong leadership and a willingness to put people before politics.
“My message to council leaders is go back to the Government and begin to renegotiate a devolution deal. The door is open.”