Local government reform has become very topical. Without doubt there is a growing consensus that the current system does not work for the county. However, the solution – and how we go about making local government work for everybody – is a hot topic of debate.

Cumbria is made up of six borough councils and an over-arching county council. Its governance is often disjointed and ineffective. Cumbria can and must do better. A solution needs to include maintaining a ‘local’ governance, whilst creating accountability.

A unitary structure, would address the disjointed nature of a two-tier authority. This would create a single point of contact for every resident in Cumbria and ensure that issues were not passed between two authorities. I am very conscious of our county identity and would like to make more of the ‘Cumbria’ brand. However, for the purposes of local government, one unitary for the whole of the county is too big. The local element would be lost and although local government would be more joined up, it would be more distant from the residents themselves.

Therefore, I would support two unitaries in Cumbria. This would provide one point of contact for every resident in Cumbria whilst retaining the ‘local’ in local government.

To address the need to shore up and promote the ‘Cumbria’ brand, I would like to see an elected mayor for our county. The other Conservative MPs in Cumbria agree. This would provide one point of contact, elected, providing one, strong voice for Cumbria, both regionally and nationally.

My constituency of Workington is home to a variety of businesses and our local economy relies on the success of these businesses. Our new structure of local government needs to meet the needs of residents as well as businesses. We have a strong industrial base coupled with a large energy sector, including a large number of constituents who work in the nuclear industry.

I want to see an elected mayor promote the strength of our supply chains, our innovation and our industry in the Workington constituency. I want the west coast and Cumbria to flourish, and our local government structure forms the bedrock on which a strong economy can be built.

However, the prize for Cumbria will never be the drawing of a line on a map by local politicians. The prize is the devolution deal that we can make with Government on the back of a local government restructure and the introduction of an elected mayor.

Our infrastructure needs to be improved. The way we promote our county needs to be addressed and each area of the county would benefit from a different form of assistance from Government. A devolution deal would offer each area of the county an opportunity to address some of our local issues. In many cases this could involve building on good work already done by local government.

Local government restructure offers us much more than the opportunity to redraw lines on a map. It gives us a very real opportunity to compete nationally. This is a once in a generation opportunity that should be grasped, collectively, with both hands.