The Government has today announced a consultation on the future of local government in York and North Yorkshire to unlock devolution, which will consider two proposals to remove 2-tier authorities in the region.
• The East/West model proposed by the six of the seven District Councils, which would see York merge with Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby district council areas, covering an illogical mixed urban, rural and coastal geography that that for City of York Council would now stretch 65 miles north/south, and 45 miles east/west.
• The North Yorkshire proposal with York remaining on its existing footprint, whilst North Yorkshire creates a new single council, serving the whole of North Yorkshire, working in a strategic partnership with City of York to achieve the best for the region.
In response to the consultation, the Council has reiterated the importance of retaining City of York Council, alongside a new unitary authority for the rest of North Yorkshire, to pave the way for significant investment in York, and to avoid significant disruption and cost to local residents and businesses during this difficult time.
In October, with near-unanimous and cross-party support, the Council submitted its evidence to the Government for York to remain as an independent unitary authority. 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, increasing council tax, 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 Government’s statutory 8 week consultation asks key stakeholders to express a view on the proposals submitted, as well as giving local residents, businesses and organisations a chance to express their views direct to Government via https://consult.communities.gov.uk/governance-reform-and-democracy/northyorkshire/consultation/ or by emailing [email protected] .
Councillor Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Leader of the City of York Council, commented:
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, which has hugely stretched local government resources, the Government is committed to its restructure of local government in North Yorkshire.
“Residents, businesses and key partners have made it clear that what matters most now 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.
“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 quicker access the investment unlocked by devolution. This will benefit our communities and businesses and to help facilitate a strong recovery in the city.”
“Given the significance and potential consequences of local government reorganisation in our region, I would urge as many York residents to send a clear message to the Government – York must remain York.”