Communities across Morecambe Bay have sent a strong signal to Government on proposals for local government reorganisation.

A Government minister confirmed that there had been a significant number of responses on The Bay proposal during a recent consultation, which closed on April 19.

He also indicated that the majority of email responses received in the Government’s consultation had been from people backing the idea of joining up Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland councils and forming a new Bay unitary authority.

The comments from Luke Hall MP, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, came during a House of Commons debate on the Bay unitary proposal secured by Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith.

Mr Hall said that he had checked that morning on the number of responses received on the four proposals put forward for Cumbria and said 'well over four fifths of email responses alone are about the Bay proposal, and nearly two thirds of the total emails for Cumbria are from the “Back the Bay” campaign.'

The confirmation of strong support for the Bay proposal has been welcomed by the leaders of the three councils proposing the new authority.

In a joint statement, Councillor Ann Thomson from Barrow Borough Council, Councillor Dr Erica Lewis from Lancaster City Council and Councillor Giles Archibald from South Lakeland District Council, said: “This is confirmation from a Government minister of what we have been hearing ourselves in our communities and what we found when we conducted our own surveys and consultation events late last year – that there is strong backing for the idea of a Bay authority.

“The Bay is the most ambitious, forward-thinking and rational plan for our areas, based on strong existing community and economic links and a credible geography.

“It shows how we can work together with a range of organisations in the Bay area to drive positive change on shared priorities including building community power and engagement, reducing inequality and inequity, improving wellbeing, building community wealth and tackling the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity.

“We have been delighted with the positive reaction to our proposal and we really believe it has captured the imagination of everyone who wants to see our combined area develop and thrive."

Under the plan, the district councils of Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland and county council in Cumbria would be replaced with a newly created, single tier ‘unitary’ local authority for the area.

The new authority would deliver the services currently provided by both the district and county councils such as waste and recycling collections, public realm, planning, highways and transport and adult and children’s social care.