The alternative to a North Yorkshire 'mega council'
North Yorkshire’s district and borough council leaders have announced an alternative to the county council’s plan to create a “mega council”.
The seven leaders are working together, across party lines, to develop an east/west model that would “keep local government local” in the county.
This would create two brand-new councils across North Yorkshire and York:
- Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and York in the east
- Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire in the west
Research carried out by KPMG shows that this model is likely to deliver significant financial and democratic advantages over the county council’s plan to create England's largest-ever unitary authority.
The leaders believe the new east/west councils would both be “large enough to be efficient into the future, but small enough to keep connected with our communities”.
Speaking on behalf of the seven council leaders, Councillor Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council, said: “While not every leader supports change at this chaotic time, the Government wants change and the county council has confirmed it will push ahead with its unpopular ‘mega council’ proposal.
“Therefore, if change is coming, all seven of us - Conservative, Labour and Independent - stand united and determined to work together to get this change right.
“We want the best councils for North Yorkshire and York. That’s why we came together six weeks ago to ask KPMG to conduct an independent and objective study into all the options.
“Today we can share an important update with you. From an initial long-list of ten options, the evidence so far shows that one performs most strongly, with significant advantages over the ‘mega council’ model.
“The research shows our model will likely achieve greater financial savings in the long-term, stronger democracy and more effective services, while best delivering the Government’s devolution agenda.
“Overall, the model delivers two authorities large enough to be efficient into the future, but small enough to keep connected with our communities.
“But this work is not over yet. We are keen to hear from you, the public, as we make our alternative model the strongest it can be based on your views and feedback.”
The model advocated by district and borough leaders would create an east authority with a population of 465,375 and a west authority with a population of 363,297.
This would create two equally-sized authorities around the 400,000-resident threshold that Simon Clarke MP, minister of state for local government, said is “optimal”. It would also deliver change in the City of York, which the minister said is “sub-optimally” sized.
The county council’s plan is to create a unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire with a population of 617,982, while preserving the existing City of York unitary authority with a population of 210,618.
The district and borough council leaders are: Cllr Richard Foster (Craven), Cllr Mark Robson (Hambleton), Cllr Richard Cooper (Harrogate), Cllr Angie Dale (Richmondshire), Cllr Keane Duncan (Ryedale), Cllr Mark Crane (Selby) and Cllr Steve Siddons (Scarborough).
The leaders’ approach to local government reform is set out at: www.get-change-right.com. The site includes a feedback form and details of engagement sessions.