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A society dedicated to celebrating and promoting the 92 historic counties of the United Kingdom and the important part they play in our culture, heritage and geography.


Moves towards unitary local government in England provide the perfect opportunity to clear up the longstanding confusion between the historic counties and local government, to the advantage of both. Is this opportunity going to be grasped? The latest news about local government changes in the ‘Cumbria County Council’ area presents a mixed picture.

Local government structure in England is defined by the Local Government Act 1972 with its stipulation that “for the administration of local government” England “shall be divided into local government areas to be known as counties and in those counties there shall be local government areas to be known as districts”. The unqualified use of the word “county” by the 1972 Act and the “county councils” it created (many which bore little resemblance to any historic county) had a negative impact on public understanding of the historic counties – despite the Government’s repeated assurances that these administrative changes did not affect the historic counties.

Since the 1990s, many areas of unitary local government have been created by the device of creating a local government ‘county’ with a coterminous ‘district’ and then ascribing all local government functions to a single district council. Such unitary authorities have generally been given the style ‘council’ rather than ‘county council’. Many make entirely appropriate, qualified use of an historic county name, e.g. ‘Central Bedfordshire Council’, ‘North Northamptonshire Council’.

ABC does not have a view on the structure of local government, but we do recommend that:

  • All new unitary authorities should be given the title ‘council’ rather than ‘county council’;
  • All new unitary local government areas should be referred to as ‘council areas’  rather than as ‘counties’.
  • No new unitary authority or combined authority should be given the unqualified name of any historic county unless its area closely matches that historic county.

Do the latest local government changes match up to our ideal? Well, this is very much a ‘glass half-full’ versus ‘glass half-empty’ situation.

On 24 Jan 2022, Minister of State Kemi Badenoch confirmed that Cumbria County Council and the district councils in its area would be replaced by two new unitary authorities:

Cumberland Council based on the combined area of the current Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland districts;

Westmorland and Furness Council based on the combined area of the current Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland districts.

The map below shows the areas of these new council areas compared to the historic counties. Shadow authorities will be elected in May 2022 and assume full powers on 1st April 2023. The shadow authorities have the right to change the council names.

LG Map of CUmberland Council, Westmorland and Furness council

The two new council areas compared to the historic counties

To start with two big positives.

Neither of these new councils is to be called ‘county council’ but simply ‘council’. This has been the case with most of the post-1990 unitary authorities created in England and is to be welcomed. An end to a large ‘county council’ and it’s replacement by a number of smaller ‘councils’ can only help make clearer the distinction between local government and the historic counties.

Neither of the proposed new council names contains the word ‘Cumbria’. The current Cumbria County Council area covers part of 4 historic counties: all of Cumberland and Westmorland; the Lancashire North of the Sands area of Lancashire; and the Sedbergh area of Yorkshire. The name ‘Cumbria’ is not directly borrowed from an historic county though it is essentially a synonym for Cumberland. Cumbria County Council has consistently fostered the identity of Cumbria as a county, strongly to the detriment of the identities of the historic counties in its area, which it has made no effort to acknowledge or promote. An end to the use of ‘Cumbria’, at the very least in the context of it being viewed as a ‘county’, is to be welcomed.

Less positive are the proposed names chosen for the new councils, especially ‘Cumberland Council’.

The area of the new Cumberland Council does at least lie entirely within the real Cumberland and it does contain 90% of the population of the historic county. However, 23% of the historic county, including Penrith and Alston, does not lie in the Cumberland Council area.  ‘West Cumberland Council‘ or similar would be a more appropriate name.

The name Westmorland and Furness Council does have the advantage that it describes the greater part of the council area and is clearly not pretending to be a county or to deny the historic county identity of places within it.

The inclusion of ‘Westmorland’ as a part of the name seems appropriate in that the council area covers all of Westmorland. The inclusion of ‘Furness’ also seems appropriate since the council area also includes all of the Furness area of Lancashire (aka Lancashire North of the Sands).

However, 28% of Westmorland and Furness Council’s area actually lies in Cumberland. In addition 6% of the council area lies in the Sedbergh area of Yorkshire. Finding a name which reflects all of these would be challenging.

Perhaps the biggest negative though is the Government’s decision to continue with the so-called “ceremonial county” of ‘Cumbria’ – although a change of lieutenancy areas to match the new council areas would not really be any kind of improvement on the status quo. The map below shows the Cumbria lieutenancy area in relation to the historic counties.

The lieutenancy areas of the north-west of England compared to the historic counties

The so-called “ceremonial counties” are actually the areas defined by the Lieutenancies Act 1997 for the jurisdiction of the lord-lieutenants of Great Britain.  This act labels these areas as “Counties and areas for the purposes of the Lieutenancies in Great Britain”.

ABC objects to the use of the word “county” for these areas, since they are actually combinations of local government areas. Most are very different to  any historic county, although many make inappropriate use of an historic county name.  The lieutenancy areas of Scotland are called “areas” and it’s hard to see why those of England and Wales could not also be so labelled. Lieutenancy areas should not bear an historic county name unless they are close in area to that historic county.

The Government could, of course, define the lieutenancy areas directly in terms of the historic counties – as they once were. Such a move could be viewed as the appointment of a dignitary to each historic county in recognition of their importance to our history, heritage and culture. The office of lord-lieutenant has never defined the counties, most of which pre-date its creation by many centuries, and should not be seen as such.

To properly align the lieutenancies with the historic counties, the lieutenancy areas of the Lieutenancies Act 1997 should be defined in terms of the Historic Counties Standard widely recognised (e.g. by the Office for National Statistics) as the standard definition for the names and areas of the historic counties.

What does all this mean for the ‘Cumbria’ brand? A lot will depend on how the media reacts to the local government changes – whether they start to base geographical descriptions on the new local government areas or continue with ‘Cumbria’. The continuation of Cumbria Police will keep the name in the media. As ever with the media, this will all be completely inconsistent.

We might, however, consider that the end of a corporate body with a vested interest in promoting the notion of the ‘county’ of ‘Cumbria’ can only be a positive thing for the historic counties. We might also hope that the successor authorities have more regard to the identities and cultures of the historic counties of their areas: erecting road signs, supporting county days, flying county flags and so on.

Longer term, there is the distinct possibility that a ‘Cumbria’ combined authority will be formed with an elected ‘Mayor of Cumbria’. There is no intrinsic reason why combined authorities and elected mayors need pose any threat to historic county identities, provided they are not promoted as ‘counties’ and do not misuse county names. Sadly, to call one ‘Cumbria’, given the history of the use of this name, can only continue to undermine the identities of the historic counties of the area.

Time will tell.

39 thoughts on “Boost for the historic counties – ‘Cumbria’ is axed!

  • I have emailed BBC Radio Cumbria, my Allerdale MP, the current “Cumbria County Council” Royal Mail asking many of the points you raise (thank you).
    I have been completely and I do mean completely ignored (even had ‘read’ receipts on some of my emails) as I am not “down with the cause” being the obsession (don’t underestimate the pro-Cumbria love from the man on the street right up to the so called powers that be..) with keeing “Cumbria” alive!
    I am sick to death with our BBC Cumbria saying at least once a minute just listen online for confirmation:- “across the County” … “A Cumbrian town…” “here in Cumbria” to a point where even my partner says “it’s ridiculous, they keep saying Cumbria non-stop..”.
    She has no skin in the game but says it is pathetic and there is no need for it . I listen to several BBC stations online and never ever does any station do this anywhere near not remotely near what BBC Radio Cumbria does.
    The obsession with “Cumbria” is so powerful that the people (unfortunately) whether in power, person on the street, young or old will never let it go.
    Fully expect “Cumbria” to be vigorously written with gusto and even more so (if that were possible) on postal addresses (quite the opposite of Humberside).
    As for me I have always written Cumberland and one day recently a postman knocked on with a parcel and said “good lord that’s a blast from the past- you’re the only person in Cumbria that does that!!!”.
    You get the picture…
    How sad that eg at the stroke of midnight on 01/01/1974 Barrow and Ulverston folk baulked at their Lancastrian roots and eagerly lovingly became (as they declare) “Cumbric” at the stroke of a Whitehall boffins pen… and don’t mention little Sedbergh which promotes itself as the “Cumbrian book town in the Yorkshire Dales”….

    • Thanks Cliff for your insights on what is a pretty depressing state of affairs. Clearly the whole notion of ‘Cumbria’ is going to stick around for years to come. That said, I do think that there no longer being a ‘Cumbria County Council’ to actively promote the ‘county’ of ‘Cumbria’ idea will make a difference. The two new unitary councils will want to promote their own corporate identities, not that of ‘Cumbria’. Whilst that doesn’t necessarily directly help ABC’s aims, we might hope that they are less hostile to the idea of acknowledging and promoting the historic counties of their areas. For example, it’s hard to see what Westmorland and Furness Council would have to lose by joining in Westmorland Day, Lancashire Day and Yorkshire Day celebrations. Also, the very fact that the names ‘Cumberland’, ‘Westmorland’ and ‘Furness’ have been applied to the new councils (whatever our reservations about this) must be some kind of indication that the historic counties of the area are still recognised and help in affection.

      • Thanks for your reply Peter. I note what you say and you added some positive perspective to my initial points!
        They are getting desperate at the moment as there is a 3rd bid with a barrister to go ahead to keep “Cumbria” intact (and this despite already over £30’000 of the taxpayers money only to be told it is refused.
        Unfortunately (as expected) BBC Radio Cumbria and the local papers are 100% behind the 3rd attempt to retain their beloved plastic “Cumbria” with no arguments (!!!) about what’s been spent already as the cause is ‘Keep Cumbria Alive’ and NO amount of money and effort will be spared.
        I cringe at the thought of it even possibly being overturned. I was never asked… I can imagine them on the lines of “Our beloved must stay.. our good Cumbrians/Cumbrian folk in Ulverston, Barrow, Sedbergh Kendal and Keswick {etc}..”

        I hope and pray that “Cumbria” collapses and the powers that are to be redeployed don’t get their way.
        I’m surprised the revisionists didn’t alter Cumberland Sausage to Cumbric/Cumbrian sausage… no one up here would bat an eyelid unfortunately.
        One other point, I drove past a truck near Penrith which had a boldly written address on it’s door of the village name (it wasn’t Appleby) followed by ‘Westmorland CUMBRIA’…. what a nonsense.
        The proprietor had the good sense to write Westmorland but literally made it stand under ‘Cumbria’ followed by his postcode and phone number…. he’s halfway there but still well under the spell of the awful ‘Cumbria’ !

        • Really hard to see how such a legal challenge can succeed. This is standard LG change done in the same way as countless others before it. This change was agreed by Jenrick and has been endorsed by Gove. Very hard to see the government changing its mind at this late stage.

          • Thanks for that Peter, sounds like it’s a done deal for the axing of the plastic “Cumbria”!
            Aside from that, I remember as a youngster in the 1960’s always avidly listening to my elders and betters that the word ” Cumbria” (aside from the mountain range) was never ever said.
            No matter what the revisionists claim, only the words Westmorland, Furness, and Cumberland were in everyone’s lexicon.
            It would never have entered their head(s) to say “Cumbria” and that is cast-iron so!
            Barrovians for one example did NOT view themselves as “Cumbric”, it didn’t exist in anyone’s head at all. Barrovians knew they were Lancastrians and did not view themselves as any different say than someone from Preston or Bolton, they correctly and sanely knew that they lived in Barrow in Furness Lancashire.
            It seemed as though something sparked everyone (brainwashed) at the stroke of midnight as 01/01/1974 began and the bizarre obsession & strange ‘love’ with the new invention “Cumbria”.

    • I seriously can’t wait until you weirdos clinging onto old counties that genuinely have no different culture just go away. The county is Cumbria and even with the new 2 unitary authorities the county will still be Cumbria, get with the times or shut up.

      • Everyone has a right to an opinion. Everyone has a right to express an opinion. It can hardly be a surprise to you that the opinion of an organisation which exists to champion the historic counties is that the historic counties are an important part of our history, heritage and culture. Can’t say we’ve any particular intention to be “be quiet” or “go away”. We love the counties and we’ll continue to champion their cause. Best of luck with your own points of view.

      • Norfolk and Suffolk aren’t exactly radically different in culture either if you ask me. Would that be a good reason to merge them into a single county called East Anglia or whatever and to brand as weirdos the people who objected to the change?

      • You can call the Westmorland and Cumberland parts Cumbria if that’s what the people want but your not having Lancashire and Yorkshire. 🤪✌️

  • I cannot comment on the details regarding the county boundaries . But I think the general move to fewer and bigger council areas with fewer councillors is a bad one . Across Europe there is about one local representative to about 200 people . The U.K. had a ratio of one to 2000 a few years ago now it must be worse .
    The idea is that they are more “ efficient “ there is no evidence for this ,no one voted for this .
    I live in Kirklees and it is big but neither efficient nor effective and no one outside the area has any idea where we are ?

  • Let’s not forget what started the whole process of Whitehall interference in our traditional county boundaries. It was, of course, the Heath Administration over zealously preparing the UK for membership of the so called ‘Common Market’ and its ‘NUTS’ system of regions and sub-divisions. It’s been chaos ever since and could only happen here. Those born since the 1970s think there have always been ‘counties’ such as ‘Cumbria’, ‘Cleveland’ and ‘Tyne and Wear’ (originally to be called ‘Tyneside’), and that we’ve always been part of the EU!

    An opportunity was missed in 1997 to base the Lieutenancies on the historic counties. This is what we need to push hard for now. The media have indeed much to answer for. Sunderland’s rightful place in County Durham survives in terms of sport, the military and the church, but is otherwise overlooked, despite centuries of proud membership. Even Post Office Counters have ‘Sunderland, Tyne and Wear’ on their receipts!

    We have made some progress, but there is still much to do. Onwards!

    • Great point David.
      What irony that the Whitehall boffins back in 1974 managed to merge two rivers and get people to take into their hearts and lungs an address which in both the general Newcastle or Sunderland area fully includes their ‘rival’… no self respecting Wearsider should entertain ‘Tyne’ in their address and nor should anyone identifying with the Newcastle side of things want to have ‘Wear’ in their address either.
      As you say Sunderland Tyne & Wear is deeply ingrained with no affinity (sadly) to County Durham. Shame on them.

      Down the road in “The Boro'” they are the only place in Yorkshire that bitterly resent (weird) their mother County and are obsessed with the fiction “Cleveland” abolished since 1996.
      The Post Office has altered all their receipts to Middlesbrough North Yorkshire yet Boro’ folk do NOT accept it…. they are very much in love with the Unicorn-poo “Cleveland”…. to a man.
      “Cleveland” is a hill to die on for The ‘boro folk and worse still Stockton and Billingham who are now postally Co. Durham but the public and businesses ALWAYS write “Billingham CLEVELAND”, “Stockton on Tees CLEVELAND” and sticking two fingers up at County Durham.
      So maddening!

  • There is some sort of steering group for Westmorland & Furness meeting in the spring. I will write to them (and hopefully FORL/ABC will too) pointing out that they really need to use a county neutral name, maybe something like Lakes & Dales. The new name will inevitably be shortened so that you will eventually get people in Barrow, Sedbergh and Penrith saying they are “from Westmorland” further muddying the County waters. The new council name completely ignores the 3 other traditional counties in its area.
    As Cliff says above, our local media are 100% not interested in traditional counties. They are obsessed with cumbria to the point where I really expect they will soon write an article comprising entirely of “cumbria, cumbrian, south cumbria”! It’s as if they feel duty bound to protect and promote a bogus cumbrian identity. They are the other villains of this piece!

    • Well put Pete!
      Great points and thankfully you too know all about the darned BBC cumbria (no capitalisation haha) saying the’ cumbria’ word and ‘the county’ (meaning cumbria of course) literally 3 times a minute every minute of every broadcast or presenter.
      They are obsessed, even my Mrs now agrees with me!

    • You’re not a child, get a grip. The county is CUMBRIA and it has been for decades now, be quiet if you don’t like it.

      • Everyone has a right to an opinion. Everyone has a right to express an opinion. It can hardly be a surprise to you that the opinion of an organisation which exists to champion the historic counties is that the historic counties are an important part of our history, heritage and culture. Can’t say we’ve any particular intention to be “be quiet” or “go away”. We love the counties and we’ll continue to champion their cause. Best of luck with your own points of view.

      • “Cumbria” is not a county, but a plastic abomination that nobody wants.
        What an odd person who is not only rude and childish but wants to attach himself to whoever empties his bins at each change of names of areas.

        • Cumbria can only be described as the Milton Keynes Dons of counties. It doesn’t mean anything. Made up nonsense on the night of the long pens back in 1972.

        • Except it isn’t an abomination no-one wants, is it? Cliff Forsyth’s report at the top of this thread is that practically everyone in Cumbria has embraced it in their identity.

      • Some people have regard for the proper recognition of our historic heritage. Others, like yourself, fail to understand the issues and really couldn’t care less anyway. PS Sorry to disappoint but the Furness & Cartmel areas are, by law, within Palatinate Lancashire. Cumbria is by law an administrative council serving 4 counties. In 2023 it’ll be abolished. How will you cope when it disappears from maps?

      • Go to ‘Cumbria’ and tell me it’s a real county. To suggest the people of Carlisle have anything in common at all with the people of Arnside is utterly ridiculous, like wise Whitehaven and Sedbergh. Also take bot of what happens to the Cumbria signs in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

  • They’re getting desperate… this is just one of the latest newspaper releases where the narrative is very much keeping the 47 year old abomination alive (ironically the paper has a historic name being The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald.. yet the owners etc are completely at odds with those pair of real Counties… oh the irony.
    I bet they and all other local papers plus the BBC never stood in the way nor cared at all when Cumberland, Westmorland, the Furness part of Lancashire along with little Sedbergh from Yorkshire were abolished!!!

    It’s as though people are brainwashed up here…. the quote “a greater love hath no man..” applies out of it’s original context for sure… with all classes of people from Keswick Fell Walkers to the industrial terrace streets of Barrow seemingly thinking that nothing at all for them to identify with as their County, existed until 01/01/1974…. where as we all know they lovingly embraced the new invention “Cumbria” and became “Cumbric” overnight with nothing but despising, nay mocking the mother counties be they Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire or the little bit of Yorkshire swept into this, being the feeling of all of them.
    One cannot even compare the ongoing Middlesbrough/Redcar/Stockton clinging obsession to ” Cleveland” with this “Cumbria” affair.
    We also had on BBC Cumbria this week (I nearly fell off my chair at work) another push, this time they used a gentleman with Jamaican patois brought in on obviously a pre-recorded piece clearly and firmly declaring “We are ONE Cumbria, we are all Cumbrians, We are all CUMBRIC..”.
    The MSM media are throwing everything including the kitchen sink at keeping the flames of “Cumbria” alive… what WILL they do when it’s (hopefully) as it should, be taken off maps?…

    “Cumberland & Westmorland Herald

    Next steps taken in local government shake-up
    Cumberland and Westmorland Herald by CWH / 8h//keep unread//hide

    Representatives of each existing Cumbrian council are being nominated to lay the groundwork for their successors.

    Local government reorganisation will soon see Cumbria’s seven existing councils abolished and replaced by two unitary authorities, one governing the west of the county and another for the east.

    Cumberland Council will take over in 2023 governing Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland. Westmorland and Furness Council will be the new authority for Eden, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness. Cumbria County Council will be abolished.

    Each of Cumbria’s existing local authorities in the soon to be Cumberland authority are now sending their representatives to a Joint Committee. These will lay the groundwork for the new authorities, making recommendations on the code of conduct and constitution.

    Cumbria County Council will be represented on the committee by leader Stewart Young, transport boss Keith Little and cabinet member for the environment Celia Tibble. The cabinet agreed to nominate the three councillors at a meeting this week.

    Carlisle City Council agreed on Tuesday to nominate the leader John Mallinson, deputy leader Gareth Ellis and leader of the opposition Les Tickner.

    It was the final budget meeting of the city council’s lifespan before the new authorities take control.

    Allerdale council leader Mike Johnson will take part in the joint committee along with two members of the opposition, Alan Smith of Labour and Nicky Cockburn of the Allerdale Independents Group.

    Elections will be held throughout Cumbria in May to appoint shadow authorities which will oversee the transition which will include the drawing up of budgets.

    Although members of the joint committees are being given a say on what comes next, the shadow authority is not obligated to accept their recommendations.

    Copeland Borough Council’s political groups will reveal their nominees at a meeting of the full council on February 22.

    Executive member David Moore said: “The executive decided to take it to full council which is the right thing to do because the Joint Committees will have both executive and full council powers. What they have to be is politically balanced so there’ll be one Conservative nomination and two Labour.”

    This would be representative of the number of seats held by Labour on the borough council.

    The Structural Change Order – a document giving Central Government the authority to change how the county is run – is currently being passed through Parliament.

    Political groups throughout Cumbria will soon be putting their nominations forward for the elections in May.

    Cllr Moore said: “Once the SCO is completed, probably some time toward the end of March and once the elections are held on May 5 the new unitaries will technically be able to make decisions.

    “The last day to call an election is March 25.” “

    • If as you suggest everyone in Cumbria embraced the ‘Cumbric’ identity (even if they have been ‘brainwashed’ as you suggest – how funny when people find others who disagree with them they call them brainwashed – how very clever of you to avoid this brainwashing yourself!), then is it not defying public opinion to try and enforce identities they don’t want on them?

      One of this Association’s key arguments is that people don’t identify with the 1972 counties and cling to the historic identity, but according to you this is not so.

      • What on earth is that attempted ‘intellectual’ reasoning you are playing at?
        Sorry but I believe you know that I am 100% correct
        however thanks for showing interest in my scribing

      • Mind you WHS it will be all over soon. The removal from maps and road signs will put “Cumbria” to bed forever.
        There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth and outrage from the propaganda machine at the Beeb (BBC Radio Cumbria blurting The county/ Cumbria 3 times a minute…) plus the fat cats at ” Cumbria” County Council …who will be redeployed in the two new non-metropolitan counties ..yes not just councils but Gove & co have clearly put into the draft that they will replace “Cumbria” as the 2 new unitary authorities are to be… wait for it…. Counties (non-metropolitan).

        • “Cumbria” will disappear from official “county” maps if it loses its Lord Lieutenant but not if its lieutenancy remains, unless I’m mistaken.

  • If only the powers that be could be persuaded to include Penrith and Alston in the new Cumberland Council’s area. Were that to happen, not only would it have boundaries more or less identical to those of the historic county of Cumberland, but the name “Westmorland and Furness” for the other new council would be rather more accurate, too (albeit not completely so if the Yorkshire settlements of Sedbergh and Dent were still within its territory).

    • Yes, though ‘Humphrey’ just doesn’t think that way:-) Officialdom has just decided to have two unitaries by grouping the existing districts together. Historic county names are being used, as always, to try to make local government changes more acceptable. The motivation is not to further the identities of the historic counties.

      • Very true. Nevertheless, even when thinking purely in terms of local government and how best to maximize the efficacy thereof, it would still make more sense to me for Penrith and Alston to be administered from Carlisle than from Kendal (the town I expect Westmorland and Furness Council will have its headquarters in), given that Carlisle is both where they are closer to as the crow flies and the place from which they are doubtless generally quicker to get to by road.

        Ergo, success is not something I would rule out if petitions in Penrith and Alston to have them controlled by Cumberland Council were signed by a lot of people – especially since the areas previously controlled by Leominster District Council and Malvern Hills District Council were split roughly in accordance with the historic border between Herefordshire and Worcestershire when these counties became administrative units once again in 1998.

  • One of ABC’s main aims is to point out that local government is distinct to the historic counties. Hence, we aren’t in the business of saying how local government should be organised or what its areas should be. We are in the business of saying that a council should not use an unqualified historic county name unless its area is a reasonable close match to that county. We are not against a council area being based on an historic county and, in that circumstance, bearing an historic county name but even then it must always be done in a way that makes it clear that the council does not define the county.

    These latest changes (and that in the Somerset County Council area) highlight the problem of the last 60 years. The government ignores the historic counties in making local government changes – but then it tries to use them in naming the new council areas:-) Result: confusion and the undermining of the historic counties. Local government was based on the counties in 1888, even then not all that closely really. Since then it has departed ever further from them. This cannot be reversed. What has to end is the pretence (by Government) that council areas are ‘counties’. Only by having an identity totally separate from local government can the counties have a long term future.

    All of which is a long way of saying that if the Government were to create a council area close to real Cumberland then we would have no problem with it being called ‘Cumberland Council’. As it is the Government has no intention of doing so and the currently proposed council would be better called ‘West Cumberland’ or ‘Western Cumberland’ or similar.

    • Whilst I agree that each of our ancient shires should be recognised as a place whose existence has nothing to do with whether a local authority’s area corresponds with it or not, I would like to see ceremonial borders altered throughout Britain to make them all match those of the historic counties, seeing as this might be what it takes to get the counties back on official maps. (A bonus would be if the general public came to appreciate that it was the counties that determined the boundaries of the lieutenancies and shrievalties and not the other way round.)

  • They are adamant “Cumbria” will not die, according to the press’ latest it’s all going to come under “Cumbria”……..

    £34 million debt looms for Cumbria’s new councils
    Cumberland and Westmorland Herald by CWH / 4h//keep unread//hide

    A gap in finances amounting to £34 million looms for the two new Cumbrian councils set to take over the running of the county.

    Information seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service suggest that Cumberland Council and Westmorland & Furness Council are projected a £34 million gap in finances by 2025.

    The new unitary councils will govern two new authority areas after local government reorganisation. Cumberland Council will take over in Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland. Westmorland & Furness Council will take over in Eden, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.

    Existing Cumbrian council- including the county council – will be abolished from 2023 and their assets including buildings and land, will become the property of the new authorities.

    Cumbria County Council is said to be responsible for 65 per cent of the projected budget gap.

    With £386.75 million in borrowing, the county’s share of the debt inherited by the new councils amounts to 82 per cent but it will contribute 48 per cent of the reserves.

    In comparison Carlisle City Council currently has £13.29 million in borrowing set to be inherited by the new councils and £12.940 million in reserves.

    Leader of Cumbria County Council Stewart Young pointed to the pressures on children’s services and adult social care as responsible for the projected budget gap and council borrowing.

    Deputy leader and finance boss Peter Thornton said: “All councils have budget gaps looking to the future. The county council has a record of always delivering a balanced budget.”

    Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie, who is the co-author of the east-west split, believes the financial picture shows why local government reorganisation is necessary.

    He said: “Across the county in 2025 there’s a projected budget gap of £34 million. The funding model for local government doesn’t work.

    “Local government reorganisation is potentially going to save between £19 million and £30 million in itself. That will address some of the budget gaps when this comes together.

    “It will drive efficiencies, the whole point of local government reorganisation is not about saving money it’s about resilience.”

    Allerdale Borough Council has accrued £16.56 million in debt with £6.99 million in reserves. Eden District Council’s debt is zero with £12.9 million in reserves.

  • They are winning, it won’t go away (unfortunately)….

    There will be a mayor of Cumbria says Michael Gove
    Cumberland and Westmorland Herald by CWH / 2h//keep unread//hide
    Michael Gove
    A cabinet minister has said the Government will use its powers to create a mayor of Cumbria.

    The county is currently preparing for the biggest change seen in local government since 1974.

    The existing county council and six district authorities will be abolished in 2023 and the changes will see Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness becoming the new local authority areas, with the west council governing Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland; the east council will govern Eden, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.

    Local leaders will be given the chance to bid for a combined mayoral authority, appointing a mayor of Cumbria.

    Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, has said he will use powers to make sure it happens, even if there is some dissent.

    The intention to trigger an election for a mayor of Cumbria was revealed during an exchange in the House of Commons as Mr Gove presented his Levelling-Up White Paper.

    Carlisle MP John Stevenson said: “In Cumbria, if there is support for a mayoral model but some opposition to it. Will the Government take statutory powers to ensure that the mayoral model prevails?”

    Mr Gove replied: “Yes, and I cannot think of a better mayor for Cumbria than my honourable friend.”

    Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie said: “I’ve been probably the longest-term advocate of an elected mayor for Cumbria. I believe the combined authority, the elected mayor model is the best for Cumbria and provides the vehicle for levelling-up.

    “I don’t think we need to look any further than what’s been achieved in Tees Valley under Ben Houchen.”

    Mr Starkie said that constituencies are better placed to bid for funding and developments under an elected mayor. “What it will do is give Cumbria a place at the top table to make our case. It’s the direction of travel.”

    But the county council’s deputy leader, Liberal Democrat Peter Thornton, said: “Most council leaders believe appointing a mayor is an unwanted expense of bureaucracy.”


    • This is the point I made in the last paragraph of the article:
      “Longer term, there is the distinct possibility that a ‘Cumbria’ combined authority will be formed with an elected ‘Mayor of Cumbria’. There is no intrinsic reason why combined authorities and elected mayors need pose any threat to historic county identities, provided they are not promoted as ‘counties’ and do not misuse county names. Sadly, to call one ‘Cumbria’, given the history of the use of this name, can only continue to undermine the identities of the historic counties of the area.”

      I’d imagine that the decision to create two unitary authorities was driven by the desire to create a combined authority and elected mayor. One has to have more than one authority to have a combined authority and a mayor. In contrast, a single unitary is being created in the area of Somerset County Council where there are other options for combined authorities without the need to create more than one unitary authority. As ever, the Government is pursuing its objectives, in terms of local government and devolution, and just using historic county names if it thinks that may be useful to achieve those objectives. It’s not been driven by any genuine concern for the historic counties.

      There are other current “county council” areas where we should be very wary of a similar thing happening. An obvious one is the area of the current Lancashire County Council. Don’t be surprised to see two or three unitary authorities formed from this area and then a combined authority of ‘Lancashire’ formed from them with a ‘Mayor of Lancashire’. This could bake in the fake ‘Lancashire’ for a long time to come.

      ABC has no issue with combined authorities and mayor so long a they are not pretending to be an historic county.

  • Hello,
    Having read through the above article, the map appears to be missing. Can anyone point me in the direction of a map showing the new Cumberland overlaid on the original Cumberland, and the current Cumbria? Most maps I have come across are too small a scale to be of much interest,

  • Dear Peter Boyce, Thank you for this post. Would it please be possible to request permission to reproduce the map you’ve used above in an article I’m writing?

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