District council leaders in North Yorkshire propose splitting county in two under local government shake up

District councils in North Yorkshire have put forward their plan to oppose the creation of one “mega council” for the whole of the county.

Earlier this year local leaders in North Yorkshire were told by the Government that in order to unlock a devolution deal - including more funds, powers, and a directly-elected mayor - reorganisation would have to take place and one or more unitary authorities created.

Currently the county is made up of seven district councils, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), and City of York Council.

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But under plans put forward by NYCC the new set up would see one overarching unitary authority created for the whole of North Yorkshire, with the exception of York which would continue as a stand alone unitary council.

Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale council. Photo: JPI MediaKeane Duncan, leader of Ryedale council. Photo: JPI Media
Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale council. Photo: JPI Media

District leaders believe this would be too large, and today have instead proposed an east/west divide and the creation of two unitary authorities to span the whole area.

In the east, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, and York world join together as one and cover a population of 465,375, while in the west Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, and Richmondshire would do the same and cover 363,297 people.

And the leaders say that work commissioned by them from consultants KPMG shows that this model is likely to deliver significant financial and democratic advantages over the county council’s plan to create England’s largest-ever unitary authority.

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Speaking on behalf of the seven council leaders, Councillor Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council, said: “While not every leader supports change at this chaotic time, the Government wants change and the county council has confirmed it will push ahead with its unpopular ‘mega council’ proposal.

“Therefore, if change is coming, all seven of us - Conservative, Labour and Independent - stand united and determined to work together to get this change right.

“We want the best councils for North Yorkshire and York. That’s why we came together six weeks ago to ask KPMG to conduct an independent and objective study

into all the options.

“From an initial long-list of ten options, the evidence so far shows that one performs most strongly, with significant advantages over the ‘mega council’ model.

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“The research shows our model will likely achieve greater financial savings in thelong-term, stronger democracy and more effective services, while best delivering the Government’s devolution agenda.

“Overall, the model delivers two authorities large enough to be efficient into the future, but small enough to keep connected with our communities.”