Shortlist drawn up for parish councils across North Yorkshire to take on key services

Plans to hand powers to town and parish councils to manage schemes that will benefit communities across North Yorkshire are set to be progressed after a shortlist of bids has been revealed.
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The scheme has been developed following a submission to the Government ahead of the largest overhaul of local government in nearly 50 years in the county which saw the creation of North Yorkshire Council in April.

The council has pledged to place local communities at its heart while covering England’s largest county, and the pilot scheme, which has been dubbed double devolution, is a key platform to achieving this aim.

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A dozen expressions of interest were submitted by town and parish councils, and North Yorkshire Council’s executive will meet on Tuesday October 17 to discuss which of the bids should be progressed.

Scarborough, with Coun David Chance pictured inset.Scarborough, with Coun David Chance pictured inset.
Scarborough, with Coun David Chance pictured inset.

Services which could be taken on by town and parish councils include managing parks, markets and public conveniences.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for corporate services, Cllr David Chance, said: “Town and parish councils are integral to our county’s vibrant communities, alongside community groups, and we recognise their understanding of the needs, opportunities and strengths within their communities.

“That’s why we are looking at this pilot scheme, working initially with selected town and parish councils, enabling us to progress cautiously, learning from the experience and developing best practice.

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“These proposed pilots are just the start of the process, and the hope is that more will be introduced throughout North Yorkshire in the future.”

Bids for double devolution had to meet specific criteria that included a solid business case and delivery plan as well as being cost neutral to North Yorkshire Council.

Five of the expressions of interest are being recommended to move forward to a full business case.

These include:

- Malton Town Council’s bid to manage Malton Market Place’s public toilet facilities, including cleaning and maintenance.

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- Filey Town Council’s submission to manage public benches in the seaside town.

- Knaresborough Town Council’s application to manage the town’s markets, storage facility and associated assets such as road closure signs.

A further two expressions of interest have been recommended to move forward to full business cases once they have been revised.

Whitby Town Council has bid to manage parks and floral displays excluding highways verges including Pannett Park, along with equipment and facilities, including depots linked to the services.

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It has been recommended that beach management services, including the letting of the seasonal beach huts and the retail concessions on the esplanade, should be removed from the initial bid, as these would not be cost-neutral to North Yorkshire Council.

Two further expressions of interest, submitted by Ripon Town Council and Selby Town Council, were deemed to be particularly ambitious and involved transferring a host of responsibilities.

If the go-ahead is given for full business cases to progress, the decision as to which bids become a reality will be taken by the executive following consultations with the relevant area committee on North Yorkshire Council.

The executive will meet next week to also discuss plans for a report to be prepared about allowing future expressions of interest from other town and parish councils. If agreed, a report is expected to be presented to the executive in January next year.