Today, Cumbria County Council's Chief Executive Louis Victory responded to the announcement that there will be a referendum on regional government. He says:
"Although the political parties within the County Council adopt different stances on the desirability of regional government, all will welcome an end to the period of uncertainty over whether there is to be a referendum on the subject. The people of Cumbria will now be asked to give their judgement on the issue in autumn 2004. Before that, and starting soon, the Boundary Commission will visit the County to begin looking at options for new all purpose (unitary) local government structures which will be put in place if the electorate opt for a regional tier of government. All District Councils and the County Council would disappear, to be replaced by one or more new organisations.
Cumbria County Council is already committed to supporting a new single county-wide unitary authority providing high quality services at least cost to the electorate. This model is felt at present to be the only one which could provide effective strategic planning with strong local community structures as well, though the Boundary Commission will put forward at least two options for the public to consider. I am confident that whatever view individual Councillors and political parties may take on regional government, they will now engage energetically and responsibly in the debate that lies ahead of us. It is hugely important that people in every walk of life do the same. We will be encouraging them to consider all the facts before coming to conclusions which will radically affect our County and the whole of the North West of England.
Whether or not regional government is likely to be introduced after a referendum, the County Council will continue to work productively with regional organisations like the existing Regional Assembly and Northwest Development Agency. It has also firmly committed to maintaining excellent relations with all other Cumbrian local authorities, even where there might not be agreement with them on a regional future."
Additional information on the Referendum is available on the ODPM website.