Representatives from business, health, education and political parties have come together to launch a cross-party petition to back York’s case to remain an independent council. The petition will be submitted to the House of Commons to show that York’s residents and businesses are opposed to the proposals to merge York into a 'mega-council' along with Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby districts.
Residents are invited to sign the cross-party petition to keep decision making for York in York HERE (http://www.change.org/Webackyork)
In October, with near-unanimous support, the Council submitted its evidence to the Government for York to remain as an independent unitary authority.
The submission detailed why retaining York on its existing footprint will enable greater focus on recovery from the pandemic, whilst at the same time ensuring York can continue to deliver value for money services to residents, businesses and communities.
The evidence in the report demonstrates the significant detrimental impacts of any local authority merger which includes York. Such impacts include the eroding local decision making in York, breaking the 800-year historical connection between the Lord Mayor, council and the city, and disrupting key services at a time when they are needed the most.
The launch of the petition marks a new milestone in the campaign to keep decisions for York in York. With cross-party support and the backing of city’s key partners, the petition is intended to show the Government the true extent of the opposition to any plans which would weaken accountability, erode local democracy, and disrupt services at this already challenging time.
The Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, commented:
“As my home city, I have a special attachment to York and its future. We must do all we can to avoid the upheaval, distraction and costs associated with administrative reorganisation at a time when the focus should be on recovery.
“The current unitary arrangements for the City work well, with boundaries reflecting economic geography and respecting the strong identity of the City and its impressive traditions going back to the Mediaeval era.
“The old adage - if it ain’t broke don’t fix it - applies with particular force to the proposed dismantling of York’s successful, unitary, system of local government.
“I would urge residents to back this cross-party petition and make it clear to the Government that York must remain York.”
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of the City of York, added:
“This campaign transcends political lines, it is about the future of our city and communities. I’d encourage residents to add their name to the opposition to the plans to merge York into an unaccountable and far removed council.
“It is vital that York continues to lead its own recovery, by putting residents and local businesses at the heart of our efforts to build back better. By avoiding the unnecessary disruption and cost caused by boundary changes, we can access the investment provided through devolution quickly. This will benefit our communities and businesses and to help facilitate a strong recovery in the city.”
The petition text reads as below:
“The petition of the residents of the United Kingdom
Declares that York's residents and businesses are best served by having an independent council, on its current boundaries, that is focused solely on their needs and provides the basis for economic opportunity, high-quality public services and a stronger community; further declares concern that if York is merged into a new council stretching 65 miles north to south there could be an increase in council tax by £117 per year; further that this would inevitably mean that resources could be diverted from York and residents would pay more money for poorer services; further that this would lead to the end of the 800-year connection between the city and its council; further that the role of Lord Mayor might be scrapped; further that the disruption to key service delivery across York would cost millions of pounds to implement; and further that it would be disastrous to do this during a public health crisis.
The petitioners, therefore, request that the House of Commons urge the Government to listen closely to York's residents and businesses, the City of York Council's submission to its consultation on local government devolution and to work with all local politicians, including MPs, city councillors and parish and town councillors, on any decisions to do with York's council.”