Government asks for public opinion on councils future for North Yorkshire

Residents have been urged to take part in a consultation that will shape the future of local government in North Yorkshire.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 3:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 3:24 pm

The government this week said it will listen to the views of residents, businesses and councils over which of the two proposals would be best for the county moving forward, keeping the existing North Yorkshire and York boundaries for two unitary councils or splitting the county into new East and West authorities.

North Yorkshire County Council is backing a bid for one large authority to cover the county based on its existing boundaries, with more powers passed on to town and parish councils.

City of York Council, itself already a unitary, would be left as it is under the proposals.

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The decision will impact how everyday services operate in North Yorkshire.

Six of the county’s seven district councils – Scarborough, Harrogate, Ryedale, Craven, Selby and Richmondshire – are proposing a model dubbed the “East & West plan” that would see the county and York split in half to create two authorities of roughly the same population size under one Mayor.

Scarborough, Ryedale, Selby and York would be in one authority with Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Harrogate in the other.

Both bids would see Scarborough and the other six district councils scrapped.

The consultation will ask a number of questions about each proposal around value for money, proposed geography of the council and impact of the proposal on local services.

Cllr Siddons is urging everyone to have their say.

Cllr Steve Siddons, Leader of Scarborough Borough Council, speaking on behalf of the six district and borough councils, urged people to take part in the process.

He said: “We would urge residents, businesses and organisations to have their say in this crucial consultation.

“Please take your time to read the proposals and give your views to government.

“This reorganisation will affect the lives of more than 800,000 people in York and North Yorkshire, so it’s really important that you take this opportunity to make your voice heard.”

The reorganisation of councils is linked to a devolution deal with the government which could see billions of pounds and decision-making powers under the control of a North Yorkshire mayor brought to the region by 2023.

Councillor Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, also welcomed the launch of the consultation.

He said: “The last year has shown that we need a strong council, not only to help with global crises like the pandemic, but local challenges like extreme winter weather and everyday issues like protecting our vulnerable residents, working with volunteers, the NHS and through our social care and public health teams.

“A single council would provide the critical mass, scale and financial sustainability, which are essential to deliver outstanding services while also retaining the resilience to tackle the challenges facing the whole county after the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The consultation will run until 19 April and is asking residents, businesses and public organisations how vital services such as adult social care, education, transport, planning and waste collection should be delivered in the future.