HOPES of talks between council leaders and Government politicians over a single council for the county have fallen flat.

In December, county council leader Stewart Young wrote to Local Government secretary James Brokenshire asking for talks on a unitary authority.

The aim was to open negotiations about cutting back Cumbria’s seven councils to either one or two. But Cllr Young, the Labour leader in charge of the Lab-Lib coalition running the county authority, has complained that he has had “no response” to the letter sent seven weeks ago.

Cllr Young told a full council meeting: “I haven’t even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement to my letter, so the ball is very firmly in the Government’s court. We have followed it up and will continue to follow it up. It is disappointing we haven’t had a response. I can only assume that it is entangled in the Brexit carry on in Westminster, and that’s why he hasn’t got round to it.”

Cumbria is currently a “two-tier” county which involves a county council and six district councils in Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland. A “unitary authority” or “single council” process could involve Cumbria being run by either one or two new councils – although many district council leaders disagree.

Cllr Young called on Labour councillor Lord Liddle, who sits in the House of Lords, to do what he could to raise the issue in Government.

Cllr James Airey, leader of the Conservative opposition on the county council, reiterated a call to the Government to “intervene and deliver unitary governance” to Cumbria. Cllr Airey, the member for Ulverston West, said streamlining services and reducing costs would cut bureaucracy and was “significantly overdue”.

He said: “We believe we need a slimmer local Government structure with better value for local residents, fewer highly-paid officers and fewer councillors. We need to use residents’ council tax more efficiently and effectively and not waste it."

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been contacted for a response.