The Government have recently begun a consultation on local government reorganisation in North Yorkshire.

The consultation began on 22 February 2021 and runs until 19 April 2021. This consultation follows the requirement announced by the Secretary of State for Local Government to remove the two-tier system of governance (County and District) in North Yorkshire as a prerequisite to progressing devolution for the sub-region.

As an existing unitary authority, City of York Council was clear that no change was required to the council to meet the Government’s objectives. This view was articulated in submissions to Government made in November and December 2020.

The Government is now consulting on two proposals:

  • An East/West model proposed by the six of the seven District Councils which removes all existing councils in North Yorkshire and York and merges them into two new unitary authorities with York being part of an ‘East’ North Yorkshire council;
  • A North Yorkshire proposal to create a single new unitary authority covering North Yorkshire County Council’s existing footprint, with York remaining as a unitary authority in its own right.

The Government is asking for the views of interested stakeholders on the two proposed models.

As the consultation is framed as a choice between the proposals put forward by the County Council and some of the districts; City of York Council is backing the model proposed by North Yorkshire County Council which includes a comprehensive strategic partnership between the City of York Council and the new unitary council in North Yorkshire.

The two submissions made to Government in November and December evidence the benefits of City of York and the risks of any merger. By continuing as an independent City of York Council with decision-making retained in the city, the council and its partners can concentrate on accelerating recovery from the pandemic rather than being subject to a merger with Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby District Councils and the disruption this would cause to services and partnerships in the city. Continuing as an independent unitary is also the quickest way to achieving a devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire.

You can find out more about City of York Council’s view on local government reorganisation at: Devolution and unitarisation – City of York Council

You can find out more about North Yorkshire County Council’s view on local government reorganisation at: Stronger Together – North Yorkshire County Council

Other organisations in favour of the North Yorkshire proposal include Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System, Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. A large majority (70%) of York residents who were polled also back the continuation of City of York Council in its current format.

The consultation runs until 19 April. Interested stakeholders are asked to submit their response to the following questions for both proposals:

  • Is the proposal likely to improve local government and service delivery across each area? Specifically, is it likely to improve council services, will it give greater value for money, generate savings, provide stronger strategic and local leadership and create more sustainable structures?

 

  • Where it is proposed that services will be delivered on a different geographic footprint than currently, through some form of joint arrangements, is this likely to improve those services? Such services may for example be children’s services, waste collection and disposal, adult health and social care, planning, and transport.

 

  • Is the proposal also likely to impact local public services delivered by others, such as police, fire and rescue, and health services?

 

  • Do you support the proposal from this council?

 

  • Do the unitary councils proposed by this proposal represent a credible geography?

 

Responses can be made via the following channels:

 

Online: North Yorkshire Unitarisation – Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Citizen Space – Citizen Space

Email: unitaryconsultation@communities.gov.uk

Post: Governance Reform and Democracy, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

If you would like any further information on this matter, please contact will.boardman@york.gov.uk.