North Yorkshire County Council presses on with its 'super authority' devolution plan, despite opposition from districts including Scarborough

North Yorkshire County Council is moving forward with its devolution plan to create a so-called super authority based on the county’s boundaries, despite opposition from district leaders.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 8:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 8:29 am

The county council’s Executive yesterday voted to instruct its officers to work on a submission to the government based on one authority for North Yorkshire, leaving York to remain as its own independent council.

The measure is opposed by district council leaders, including Scarborough’s Steve Siddons and Ryedale’s Keane Duncan, who have both openly backed plans for two unitary authorities of around 400,000 people under a metro mayor.

The county’s Executive has now instructed its officers to start progressing the business case for devolution based on “the whole of North Yorkshire”.

County Hall, in Northallerton

That scenario would see a single unitary authority delivering all council services to the county’s 600,000 residents.

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The seven district councils would be abolished, with City of York Council, already a unitary authority with 200,000 residents, remaining unchanged.

All councils involved can submit proposals for what they think devolution should look like to the government, which will make the final decision.

Cllr Gareth Dadd, the county council’s deputy leader, told the Executive meeting that North Yorkshire was in danger of being left behind if it did not push for devolution and backed the government to pick the best unitary bid.

He said: “I suspect the only point of disagreement from most involved in local government will be the geography and the scale of it.

“Without pre-empting our proposal, it has to go through this executive and other councillors before being submitted, I would like to think that ministers have a choice.

“If by judging proposals on financial savings, localism and most importantly in my view the services local government provides to local people, especially children and elderly folk, the districts’ proposal or proposals comes out better in terms of savings then ministers will make that decision accordingly.

“If ours highlights greater localism and savings without the need for splitting nationally-renowned services then the proposal from North Yorkshire County Council will come out accordingly.”

He added that a range of proposals was needed to “let the best bid win”.

Speaking on Monday, Scarborough Council leader Cllr Steve Siddons said the county’s plan for a super council would create a “marriage of unequal partners” between North Yorkshire and York.

At a meeting of all the councillors of the borough authority, he said that the county’s vision for one large unitary council had been rejected in 2007 for being “too big and too remote”.

The government’s intention is to make the changes from April 2022, with Mayoral elections taking place in May alongside elections to the new unitary authority or authorities.

If the devolution plan moves forward the county council elections scheduled for next year would be cancelled, as likely would be the elections for the Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner as those responsibilities are presumed to rest with the new elected Mayor.

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