York would combine with Selby, Ryedale and Scarborough under new devolution proposal

How the map could be redrawn
27 Aug 2020 @ 12.57 pm
| Politics

This map shows the latest suggestion of how North Yorkshire might be ruled in a post-devolution deal.

It would see two local authorities created across the region, based on an east-west split.

Hinted at last month, the official proposal comes from the leaders of the seven district councils in North Yorkshire – Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby.

The leaders believe the new east/west councils would both be “large enough to be efficient into the future, but small enough to keep connected with our communities”.

But City of York Council leaders aren’t keen.

Councils at loggerheads

The area covered by a single authority under North Yorkshire County Council’s devolution proposal

The district council’s leaders are opposed to the only other option now on the table – North Yorkshire County Council’s proposal to combine the districts under a single authority, while preserving City of York Council as a unitary authority.

They describe this as a ‘mega-council’.

The model advocated by district leaders would create an east authority – including York – with a population of 465,375, and a west authority with a population of 363,297.

KPMG was commissioned by the districts to look into all the options, and this east-west split “performs most strongly, with significant advantages over the ‘mega council’ model,” said Councillor Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council.

The district leaders say this would create two equally-sized authorities around the 400,000-resident threshold that Simon Clarke MP, minister of state for local government, said is “optimal”.

It would also deliver change in the City of York, which the minister said is “sub-optimally” sized.

The county council’s plan is to create a unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire with a population of 617,982, while preserving the existing City of York unitary authority with a population of 210,618.

What City of York Council says

City of York Council is keen on the North Yorkshire proposal which keeps it intact – and today (Thursday) opposed this plan by the districts.

CYC said in a report last month that, post-devolution, York would work closely with the single North Yorkshire council via a legal partnership called a ‘combined authority’.

“Whilst we are committed to working with partners and neighbouring local authorities, we are not convinced that any other models of local government would represent effectively York’s history, communities or the unique characteristics of the city,” the report said.

This is City of York Council’s statement today:

“We understand North Yorkshire district councils have now published their proposal for a local government restructure to central government. 

“City of York Council has not been formally consulted on these proposals and if we had, we would have made clear that any change will have a detrimental impact on residents, businesses and communities, by disrupting services and increasing council tax.

“We are encouraging local residents, businesses and stakeholders to provide feedback on the local government reorganisation and devolution via Our Big Conversation.

“In the meantime, we believe proposals that cause as little disruption as possible to allow councils to concentrate on serving their populations at this critical time are the right way forward.

“For this reason, the best way to support strong recovery, secure devolution quickly, and support the Levelling-Up agenda in York and North Yorkshire, is with City of York continuing as a unitary authority.”