Yet, now the Government has come down in favour of a single unitary authority to govern England’s largest county from 2023, the challenge now is three-fold – a smooth transition, protect services and promote new opportunities.
This will not be easy – the biggest local government shake-up in half a century also means the abolition of seven district councils which are embedded in the disparate communities that they’re still proud to represent and serve.
It’s also a major undertaking for North Yorkshire County Council which now has to prove that it can govern such a large area while dovetailing with the City of York Council which remains a stand-alone entity.
It helps that NYCC has a much-respected leader and chief executive in Carl Les and Richard Flinton respectively to spearhead this process over the next 18 months.
But it will also require humility and a concerted effort to involve the very capable officials – and expertise – that exist within existing authorities, and also further afield, if this shake-up is to become the success that is intended. After all, this is a time when many will be concerned for their own jobs and futures.
And it is also important that the public are kept informed and have a chance to offer their say; devolution works best when it has grassroots involvement from the outset.
That said, this is an opportunity to press the ‘reset’ button and deliver a dynamic leadership structure even better placed than at present to broaden the wider rural economy, safeguard essential services and enhance, still further, Britain’s most beautiful countryside and coastline so that the whole country can benefit from North Yorkshire’s new dawn.