The controversial Home Office police restructuring plan was dealt another blow last night when it was announced two forces who volunteered to take part in the scheme had pulled out.
The Cumbria and Lancashire Constabularies met with policing minister Tony McNulty this morning but were unable to resolve details of the plan, said the Home Office.
The setback is the latest in a series of defeats for the scheme.
The merger of Cumbria and Lancashire was the only one of the five proposed by the Home Office to be approved by the police authorities involved earlier this year.
A Home Office spokesman said that following the meeting this morning both Lancashire and Cumbria had withdrawn from the voluntary merger. A Home Office spokesman said:"Tony McNulty has explained to them that it has not been possible to resolve all of the issues surrounding their proposed merger in a way that will be satisfactory to them."
A joint statement issued on behalf of Cumbria and Lancashire Constabulary blamed the Government for failing to solve the "deal breaker" issue of council tax harmonisation.