North Yorkshire council leaders react with dismay as plans to create new east/west local authorities are rejected

North Yorkshire’s district council leaders united in dismay yesterday after their plans to create two new authorities based on an east/west regional divide were rejected by Government.

Local council leaders have reacted with dismay at the new restructuring. Mark Crane, leader of Selby Council, said he was "disappointed." Photo: Selby Abbey

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on Wednesday that the current two-tier system of councils in the region would be scrapped, creating a new North Yorkshire-wide authority from 2023 in a move favoured by the current county council.

But six of the region’s seven district councils had thrown their weight behind another proposal to divide the region in half, with Selby, York, Ryedale and Scarborough forming an east authority and Craven, Richmondshire, Hambleton and Harrogate forming the west.

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Of the district councils, only Hambleton did not back the east/west proposal.

The leading argument for the divide was that a North Yorkshire-wide council would have more than 600,000 people, making it one of the largest unitary authorities in the country.

The future of district council leaders’ positions was thrown into jeopardy after the announcement that all seven authorities will be scrapped.

Mark Crane, the Conservative leader of Selby District Council, said: “I’m disappointed and bewildered at the decision.

“Geographically it is already the largest county and will be the largest authority in the country by a mile.

“The sums that North Yorkshire have suggested they could save as a result are so ridiculous they are not worthy of serious consideration.”

And Richard Foster, Craven District Council leader, said he was “obviously disappointed” and concerned his district may not be represented “properly” by a new council which will cover such a large area.

But yesterday there was no suggestion of any imminent legal challenges to the Government’s decision.

Former leader of Ryedale District Council Keane Duncan said: “I would appeal to everyone to accept the result. Judicial reviews and legal challenges rarely succeed.”

And Angie Dale, leader of Richmondshire District Council said: “We’ve got to work with it and support the staff, but I do think it’s absolutely daft, if you look at the size of North Yorkshire.

“I can only speak for Richmondshire, but a judicial review costs a fortune. We need a seat around the table. All the other leaders will be thinking exactly the same as myself- how do we still make sure our voices are heard?”