THE boss of Westmorland and Furness Council has reflected on the first year since a major local government shake-up in Cumbria.

Easter Monday marks a year to the day when four councils formally merged into two, with the creation of Westmorland and Furness and Cumberland Council.

Sam Plum, the chief executive of Westmorland and Furness, said she was 'proud' of the work carried out over the past year.

She said: “I am tremendously proud of all that has been achieved by our teams and partners over this first year.

"My biggest takeaway from the year is one of gratitude for the commitment and dedication that everyone has put in to start us off on this journey. 

“The pre-work we did ensured that we were able to operate safely and legally from day one and we’ve kept up the pace right through the first 12 months.

"We knew that bringing four councils into one was not a simple task and not something that could be completed in a single year. But we have built some very firm foundations to launch the transformation we want to see.” 

Looking back on work in the Kendal area, Mrs Plum said: “We were able to redesign Kendal Library and complete work that has made it a much better community asset; one which welcomes in all sections of the community, has a greater family focus and is now a thriving hub for a range of activities.

“Also, seeing the steel pillars rising up at the £6 million extension for Sandgate School was another proud moment as we know that when the building is complete our young people will reap the benefits of new, modern facilities and greater inclusivity.

“And I think everyone at the council is excited to see the improvements that can be made with the £13.5 million of funding for the Heart of Kendal project.

"We are really looking forward to working with partners, the community and residents on making the most of what is a very significant opportunity.”

Mrs Plum said other highlights of the first year have included showcasing the area at UKREiiF, the UK’s biggest developer and investor conference, committing to make the area smoke-free by 2030, the council signing up to a new armed forces covenant and the launch of a climate action plan.

A multi-million pound investment into the restoration of Grange Lido and Promenade followed and work started on a £6 million expansion at Sandgate School in Kendal. Plans for a solar farm to be built on council land at Barrow were given the go-ahead and Cabinet approved 20mph speed limits in a bid to improve community safety. 

In 2024, the council took over management of the Coronation Hall in Ulverston and work started on the creation of the new Brilliant Barrow event space.