DEVOLUTION deal talks for Cumbria are being stepped-up say the Government.

Simon Clarke, MP and minister for regional growth, speaking at an education, skills and employment event yesterday said negotiations with officials are moving at pace with a view to reaching a swift agreement with local leaders.

Afterwards he added: “With deals agreed across nine regions spanning billions of pounds of investment, we have made great breakthroughs in empowering our regions by devolving money, resources and control away from Westminster.

“With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we are now moving swiftly in our negotiations with leaders in Cumbria to bring forward a devolution deal that will allow this thriving region to have further powers and level up its economy.

“With this deal on the horizon, we are fulfilling our promise to deliver a powerhouse built by the North, for the North.”

Council leaders had previously met ministers in February, when plans for an elected mayor and two unitary authorities were mooted - although the detail of any new deal is yet to be thrashed out.

Last month Mike Starkie, the elected mayor of Copeland Council, said: “This should have been done three years ago but we missed the opportunity and we can’t afford to do it again."