On 19th April the Government’s consultation on the future of local government in North Yorkshire closes, and the outcome could have far-reaching effects for York and its residents. As Liberal Democrat councillors representing wards in the north of the city, we want to set out why we believe this is an important moment for our city and why we want to encourage residents to take part in the consultation.
You would be forgiven for thinking that this isn’t a top priority at the moment, given the scale of the task ahead of us as we seek to recover from the Covid pandemic. You would also be justified in wondering why on earth the Conservative Government would run such an important consultation at a time of national crisis!
The options being consulted on are quite simple:
- The option favoured by York’s Conservatives and the district councils would see York’s council abolished and merged into a massive new rural and coastal council stretching from the outskirts of Doncaster in the south to Redcar in the north
- The option favoured by City of York Council, North Yorkshire County Council and the overwhelming majority of local residents would see York retain its independent council, separate from North Yorkshire County Council which would pick up the responsibilities that currently sit with district councils such as Ryedale
If the local Conservatives get their way, decision-making and resources will be taken away from York and there will be disruption to key service delivery during a public health crisis. Crucially, decisions about our area would be taken by councillors from places like Scarborough, Selby, Filey and Malton. This could mean that decisions on planning applications that impact on the Green Belt would be made by councillors who don’t know our area.
We have had experience of this before. In the 1980s, before York was a unitary council, the Conservative-controlled county council supported the building of the outer ring road as a single carriageway road - against the advice of York’s councillors. We have paid the price ever since, and now – thanks in part to funding being put in by City of York Council – work is to commence shortly on dualling the section from Hopgrove to the A19.
If York loses its independence and is swallowed up by a large rural and costal council, would councillors from far afield be willing to make the same level of investment in York’s vital infrastructure? Or will it be a re-run of the 1980s when York’s voice was ignored?
It is thanks to our ability to make decisions for York in York that we are able to invest in environmental initiatives such as improved flood defences, the proposed new community woodland between Knapton and Rufforth, ‘hyper hub’ electric charging facilities at Monks Cross and many more besides.
Please make your voice heard and let the Government know that decisions for York should continue to be made in York by taking part in the consultation at www.bit.ly/webackyork before 19th April.
Councillor Tony Fisher (Strensall Ward)
Councillors Carol Runciman, Keith Orrell & Chris Cullwick (Huntington & New Earswick ward)
Councillors Ian Cuthbertson, Ed Pearson & Andrew Hollyer (Haxby & Wigginton ward)
Councillors Derek Wann, Sam Waudby & Darryl Smalley (Rawcliffe & Clifton Without ward)