Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie: EU Ref

Mike StarkieIn my role as Elected Mayor of Copeland my energy is and always will be focused on local issues, which is the main reason I never commented publicly in the build up to the EU Referendum.

Now with the result in and as the dust begins to settle my reflections are of an appalling campaign from both sides.

Both those who wished to remain and those who wished to leave have conducted the most negative of campaigns.

Everything was about the downside of the opposing view instead of the benefits of their own, irrespective of how the result turned out; in the short term this kind of doom mongering is going to cause short term difficulties and uncertainty.

The positive thing to emerge was the level of engagement as, it was the largest turnout to a poll for 24 years.

Thankfully we live in a democratic country and whatever view anyone had pre-referendum the result has to be respected and we must move forward together to make the very best of the outcome.

The Cumbria devolution deal is now very much back on the agenda.

I very much hope the leaders of the local authorities can put their politics to one side and Cumbria can follow the lead of the likes of Manchester, Liverpool, the North East and Sheffield and sign a deal that will give this area more power to control our own destiny.

We need to have our voices heard in Whitehall and need Cumbria to become an integral part of the Northern Powerhouse.

Closer to home, here in Copeland I continue to press ahead with my manifesto commitments.

The full audit and review of the financial position and working practices of the council is almost complete.

It has taken longer than initially anticipated as it was complicated by the business rates appeal from Sellafield, which was launched in 2010 and settled earlier this year.

The aim of the review was to establish exactly the financial position of Copeland so that any decisions we made were based on knowing exactly what that position is.

What has emerged is that we have to fund a £9 million shortfall which we will make good from reserves.

We can do this without any direct effect on either jobs or statutory services.

We are also approaching the completion of the service review that will help us structure the organisation as a modern 21st Century business that is fit for purpose to deliver on the ambitious corporate plan and strategy we have put in place.

I believe it will be transformational for Copeland and will play a pivotal part in ensuring we capture the benefits of the huge inward investment heading this way and we can facilitate the building of a diverse local economy that will be sustainable for the long term.