A COUNCILLOR has questioned whether a proposed council shake-up is the 'right thing' for the area.

Ben Shirley said he was keeping an open mind ahead of Barrow Council making the final decision to sign-off plans to merge with South Lakeland District Council and Lancaster City Council in a new Morecambe Bay authority.

The council has urged residents to 'back in the Bay' in a reorganisation that leaders say will improve services.

But Mr Shirley said he has doubts over the proposed plan and disagreed with Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Council, who said residents 'don’t feel at home in Cumbria' nearly 50 years after Barrow joined the county.

The Askam councillor said: “I have taken part in all of the meetings and discussions concerning this. I assented to the council exploring this option in the spirit of being open minded. That said, I am yet to be convinced that this is the right thing for Barrow Borough or the rural part of area that I represent. I remain open minded. “One argument for The Bay that I hear, is that local people feel that we are left behind by Carlisle. So the argument to merge with Lancaster, another city, doesn’t stack up. “Lancaster is already very well established. It has a university, a port, a nuclear power station and is on the M6. It would make it more difficult to agitate for investment in a local authority based on The Bay model, if it has all of these things already.”

In response to whether people felt at home in Cumbria, Mr Shirley said: “I get that argument, but that only applies to those born before we became Cumbria - an entire generation is being forgotten about and dismissed by this argument.” Barrow Council has launched a consultation, asking residents offer their opinions on the shake-up plan, which the councillor described as 'as quite biased'.

“In the end, local people’s voices should be heard," he said. "Whatever decision is made, we will all have to get behind and make a success of it. I am open minded and I am considering all of the options on the table."

Feedback from a consultation will form part of a detailed final submission to Government, which need to be sent by December 9.