Former Conservative leader William Hague and the MP for Scarborough Robert Goodwill have backed plans to create a single council in North Yorkshire, which would see decision-making retained in York without generating needless challenges in the midst of a national crisis.
The Government is currently consulting on proposals to abolish district councils in North Yorkshire to unlock a devolution deal for the region. The first option, put forward by the 6 of the 7 district councils and supported by York's Conservatives, would see the district councils abolished and North Yorkshire County Council broken in two, and one of those two halves merged with York. The second option would see the districts abolished and a unitary North Yorkshire council created, with City of York remaining an individual unitary and working in a strategic partnership to achieve the best for the region.
Lord Hague, a former North Yorkshire MP with 26 years of service, and Robert Goodwill have joined a growing number of supporters of the North Yorkshire plan, which would see the benefits of devolution unlocked significantly earlier and build on an already strong partnership, capitalising on York’s connectivity, ambition and unique position in the county to benefit the wider region. Crucially, the North Yorkshire plan would not see any unnecessary disruption to services (in particular, public health, children’s services and adult social care) at a time when they are needed more than ever.
Resident and stakeholder consultation, alongside the analysis undertaken by the Council, show strong support for decisions made for York to remain in York. More than 1,800 residents have backed York by signing the cross-party petition. Business, health and education leaders have already written to the Government against the district proposals, supporting York’s existing strengths and opportunities as a unitary authority.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Council, commented:
“It’s great to see cross-party support grow for retaining decision-making in the city without any needless disruption or changes to services at this critical time. By working with a new unitary North Yorkshire council, we will be able to unlock funding and devolution as quickly as possible for York.
“Residents, businesses and key partners are clear that what matters now for our city is continuing our local and regional efforts to recover and rebuild. They do not support being forced into a merger which would see the city lose its local democracy, disrupt services and be of direct financial impact to local residents.”
Cllr David Carr, Leader of the York Independent Group, added:
“Devolution can bring significant benefits to our city, however, with the Government insistent on disrupting the current governance structures, we must be loud and clear when it comes to the necessity to keep decision-making for York in York.
“I’m glad to see leading regional leaders reject plans that have no public support nor any democratic, financial or historic basis. By backing the North Yorkshire unitary proposal we can deliver the best for both our city as well as the wider region.”
Residents are invited to sign the cross-party petition to keep decision making for York in York HERE ( http://www.change.org/Webackyork )