A single unitary authority formed between South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), Barrow borough council and Lancaster took another step forward last night when councillors voted against looking for an alternative by 31 votes to 15.

SLDC has now caught up with Barrow and Lancaster in garnering enough support from its councillors to amalgamating the three district councils into one unitary area.

However, two councillors voiced their concerns on doing so right now.

Councillor Giles Archibald – Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio, expressed his concerns saying: "Some months ago I was called to a meeting to discuss devolution as a deal. Several meetings later we are where we are, looking at the white paper on all this being delayed until the new year by the Government.

"What happens is we ask the secretary of state – to ask us in return to submit a case. This we have done but I feel this is not a good time to be discussing reorganisation, we should be putting all our resources into helping businesses and resident through Covid and Brexit.

"But saying that I do not believe that a single Cumbria works for us either. The larger the local authority the less voter engagement there is. Carlisle is far too remote for us, we associate more with Lancaster. There is no proof of savings with a larger council. Residents should be given a chance to consider the Bay as a working model for us.

"We have an affinity to the Bay area and have a shared health service and shared history and geography. Cumbria is an alien concept to me."

Councillor Peter Thornton added: “In 2004 it was first proposed Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland unite. Since then the seven councils of Cumbria have fought a bitter battle of the future government of Cumbria.

"But none are on party lines, with some saying it will be the end of civilisation as we know it. We need to gather facts first to see if there is public support for Bay unitary first."

At the time of going to print no date had been set by the secretary of state to invite the three councils to submit their proposals.