The leader of the new Westmorland and Furness Council has said he wants the council to be ‘modern, progressive and inclusive’ as work began to build its ‘identity’ today.

A cabinet meeting of the shadow authority for Westmorland and Furness Council took the first steps in defining the vision, priorities and values of the new authority and has also considered options for a new council logo.

The process to create a council plan will set out the new council’s vision and ambitions for Westmorland and Furness.

Priorities being discussed include addressing health and social inequalities, measures to tackle climate change, highways and transport, children’s care, the economy and housing.

Shadow authority cabinet members agreed the process for adopting a council plan, setting out a ‘high level’ strategic direction to be agreed in the autumn, followed by a period of engagement with residents, businesses and organisations during the first full year of the new council after it takes over from Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District councils on Vesting Day on April 1, 2023.

The meeting also considered baseline ‘blueprint’ documents which outline how services can expect to be organised and operate on Vesting Day to ensure a smooth transition to the new councils.

Cabinet members reviewed the high-level principles which will underpin how funding for the two new councils, as well as the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, will be allocated.

These seek to ensure that the funding of the new councils addresses need, not just population and geography. Councillors also agreed a timeline when key decisions on the new council’s budgets and a future budget strategy will be taken.

Councillors also considered a report on logo designs for the new council.

The two shortlisted options followed a brief that asked designers to create a ‘modern, clean and flexible’ logo that represented the Westmorland and Furness Council area, including its heritage and landscape.

The Mail: The first logo design for the Westmorland and Furness CouncilThe first logo design for the Westmorland and Furness Council

One design features aspects that reference ‘rolling hills’, sea and water. It uses elements from local historic and prospective flags and spells out the W and the F from Westmorland and Furness.

The second design has references to historic and prospective flags of the area alongside mountains, rivers and hills and together the three main elements create a logo with elements that look like a crest.

The Mail: The second design for the new Westmorland Furness Council logoThe second design for the new Westmorland Furness Council logo

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Comments and feedback from a range of stakeholders - to a cabinet meeting in September - will help the new council choose which of the two designs they’d like to adopt as the new council logo.

Councillor Jonathan Brook, Leader of Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “Today’s meeting marked another important milestone as we start to really build the identity of the new council.

“Our council plan will articulate our vision and our priorities and is a crucial document for us. It will capture what we are all about, how we will work and the issues we want to address.

“We look forward to getting our communities’ views on how we can deliver these ambitions, and will be launching an extensive engagement process from April next year.

“Our logo is also important in building that identity. We want to be a modern, progressive and inclusive council, and we want our logo to capture that. We considered submissions from a number designers, both council staff across Cumbria and some external designers, and have narrowed the field down to two excellent designs.

“The blueprints and the financial planning are critical for the effective planning for our new council.

“They set out how things will be run from day one and how the funding for services will be provided.

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“This is a hugely challenging and complex process and we know that there are challenges ahead for the new council, including around addressing existing budget deficits we are already aware of.

“But this process of creating a new unitary allows us the opportunity and flexibility to address these things from day one. It gives us a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the way we work to put our communities at the heart of everything we do, deliver excellent services and at the same time create efficiencies from more joined-up working that will save money in the long-term.”