Local Government shake-up: how North Yorkshire County Council responded

As North Yorkshire prepares to become a single ‘unitary’ council, county council leader Cllr Carl Les says local priorities will remain at the heart of decision-making - and there will be a clear focus on collaboration with partners.

By Duncan Atkins
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 9:24 am
Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.
Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.

His statement follows the announcement yesterday (July 21) by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP, that he has chosen the county council’s proposal for the future delivery of local public services here.

As such, a new single and strong council will deliver all public services to every household in the county from April 2023, replacing the eight councils currently operating under the two-tier system.

Cllr Les added: “We have worked incredibly hard to get to this point because we believe it’s the right thing for North Yorkshire its people and businesses.

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"The decision allows us to strengthen the services we know matter most to people and ensure they are fit for the future.

“A single council will also make things simpler for everyone – just one number to call, one website, one customer service team and one accountable body delivering all local government services here.

“Support for businesses, High Streets and Market Towns can be aligned more closely with investment in infrastructure like highways and broadband.

"Planning, housing and health services will be able to provide more joined up support for families and communities.

“At this time it feels right to say thank you to all council staff, county and district, for their dedication and professionalism during an unsettling time with both the pandemic and local government reorganisation pressures.

"The judgement provides the clarity our dedicated public sector workforce deserve.”

Wendy Nichols, Secretary of the North Yorkshire Branch of Unison, which represents more than 5,500 council employees welcomed thr news and said: “Our priority is to make sure that staff experience the least possible disruption so they can get on with their jobs and continue to deliver high quality and reliable public services.

“Many thousands of staff will now simply transfer to the new council as part of the process of setting it up and hardworking officers in the district and borough councils will be able to TUPE across on their current terms and conditions.”

The Executive member with responsibility for resources at the county council, Cllr Gareth Dadd, added: “It is sustainably right that we streamline eight councils into one to make sizeable savings to protect services and the local council tax payer.”

Chief Executive, Richard Flinton hailed the announcement as "very positive news" for North Yorkshire.

Never have we needed a unified approach and strong voice more than we do now as we strive to deliver better life chances for everyone here, while working hard with partners and businesses to drive post-Covid economic recovery.

“This decision is a huge step towards ensuring the county can punch its weight regionally and nationally to create better opportunities for people and communities at a critical time. It places us firmly on the path to reap the many benefits that devolution can deliver and safeguards public services.

“It also allows us to deliver on our promise to empower local communities including town and parish councils and local groups and to work with them to develop plans and people focussed networks around our market towns. Local decision making and action will be a key feature of the new council.

The county’s bid attracted a great deal of support across partners in health and the emergency services as well as from businesses and business leaders.

Former chair of York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), David Kerfoot, said the decision "moves us closer" towards the county reaching its full economic potential as a rural powerhouse.

“For many decades the countryside has watched on as urban areas have taken the lion’s share of national investment.

"A new single council will stand shoulder to shoulder with the LEP and ensure the county benefits from the best possible devolution deal without delay.”

Visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/StrongerTogether for details of North Yorkshire County Council’s bid.