Cumbria County Council is urging the Government to address "years of underfunding" in Cumbria’s rail network.
Tenders will go out later this month to run the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises from February 2016.
The council's calls for an improved service in the new franchises include:
- greater frequency and capacity of passenger services on the Cumbrian Coast Line
- an increase in the number of direct services to Manchester International Airport from Barrow, Windermere and from the Anglo-Scottish route
- Increase in the frequency of trains on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle so that there is a half hourly service
The council has criticised the current franchise, saying that it is 'not fit for purpose' in some areas.
“We are on the cusp of seeing what exactly we’re going to get in our rail services for the next decade. We have been lobbying hard for improvements and telling Government we need to see ambition, incentives for growth and flexibility in those tenders.
"The last franchises awarded in 2004, locked us into a poor quality service which did nothing to encourage investment and could not cope with the growth in passenger numbers. The result is a rail network which in some areas is not fit for purpose compared with other networks across the country,”
A draft budget that would save more than £30 million will go before councillors today.
Cumbria County Council's Cabinet is being asked to consider approving £326 million worth of cuts to its budget for 2015/2016.
The Cabinet's recommendations will be presented for final approval to the Full Council on 19 February.
The council is encouraging Cumbrians to download a free ‘Fill That Hole" app to report potholes.
The app allows users to take a picture of the pothole and report it from the kerbside.
The app then sends that data to Cumbria County Council’s highways teams.
“Whilst our highways hotline is a successful way of reporting potholes, we know that many people use their smartphones more and more these days and we are embracing this culture shift by endorsing ‘Fill That Hole’.
“This app has helped us to identify more potholes that need attention. We are hard at work tackling potholes every day and I encourage people to download the app and report any potholes they see. After all, if we don’t know about them we can’t fill them!”
The number of payouts for damage caused by potholes went up last year in Cumbria.
272 claims were made against the Cumbria County Council for damage caused to their vehicles, a rise of 22 from the following year.
Only 15% of claims were successful, with the council paying out £16,000 in compensation.
Cumbria County Council has welcomed news plain cigarette packaging could come into force in England by 2016.
The government has announced MPs will vote on the plan before the General Election in May.
If it passes, the law will mean packets need to be dull brown outside, and white inside.
The legislation won't apply to Scotland - unless Holyrood introduces similar rules.
Cumbria County Council has organised two more drop-in sessions for people to discuss its plans for £2 million of investment on roads in the Lakes.
People can give their views and ideas at events being held on:
- Tuesday 20 January, 11am-2pm, at Windermere Room at Brockhole, Lake District Visitor Centre.
- Wednesday 21 January, 12noon-3pm, at Bowness Bay Information Centre, Glebe Road, Bowness on Windermere.
The council says the plans will affect four "key locations": Glebe Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, and the A591 at Brockhole, Low Wood Bay, and Town End, Grasmere.
The council is keen to hear public feedback.
“The response from local communities to the first round of community drop-in events was encouraging, with many sharing their views.
"We want to hear what people have to say about these locations, to help us design effective improvements."
Anyone unable to attend the latest drop-ins can view the plans on the council's website, and should email firstname.lastname@example.org by the 31st of January.
There could be a wider choice of accommodation for those who require care but want to continue to live independently.
Cumbria County Council is proposing the investment of up to £6million in Extra Care Housing, which is similar to sheltered housing.
It is believed this will save £500,000 on more costly care options, such as funding places in residential homes.
“Extra care housing means that more people will be able to live in their own home as their needs change, knowing they have the security of access to on-site care and support.
"For several years, we’ve been responding to the growing demand and different social care needs of older people who want to live independently by investing in extra care housing.”
Each scheme is built in partnership with a housing association.
The council currently supports 12 schemes around the county with four more expected to be completed during 2015/2016.
People have just one week left to respond to Cumbria County Council's savings proposals.
The council is inviting people to give their views on issues including the level of council tax and the changes the council should make as it strives to save £213 million a year by 2018.
The council says feedback is important as these changes will impact the public, with the council set to cut 1,800 jobs over the next three years:
"The council has to make tough decisions given the magnitude of the savings we need to find. We have already predicted we are going to need to lose 1,800 jobs over the next three years and the council will be roughly half the size it was at the start of the decade.
"That is going to affect individuals, families and the local economy."
More than 400 individuals and organisations have responded since the council began its 12 week ‘Secure your future' consultation in October.
The leader of Cumbria County Council has called for more powers to be given to the English regions.
Stewart Young is one of more than 100 council leaders who are demanding changes from the Government. They've written to the Chancellor, George Osborne, following the plans to devolve extra powers to Scotland.
The leaders believe the English regions would be able to manage the cuts to their budgets more effectively and say continuing the current system is no longer an option.
Cumbria County Council is to move to a new headquarters, costing £10 million, in Carlisle city centre.
More than 20 crumbling and delapidated offices will now be closed to be replaced by the new building on Botchergate.
As Paul Crone reports, council officials insist the move will save a million pounds each year in running costs.