Richmondshire District Council

New council structures approved by councillors

Richmondshire councillors have approved the submission of the ‘East and West’ model for local government reorganisation.

Members of the District Council voted tonight (Nov 5) in favour of submitting an outline bid to Government showing that the ‘east and west’ model is the best way to reorganise local government in North Yorkshire.

Councillors were presented with a KPMG research study providing compelling evidence that the creation of two unitary authorities of balanced size would provide the strongest local leadership, the most effective services and the fairest democratic representation, as well as the most savings for local taxpayers.

They agreed submission of the case for change to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Council Leader, Councillor Angie Dale, said: “Richmondshire has added its support to the east and west model – the model we believe will create a unitary system that best reflects the needs of our residents and those of the county.

“No one believes that in the current climate of covid-19 this is the right time to go through the process of reorganisation but the government has told us it is happening and it is therefore important we have a seat at the table and our voices are heard. Our submission will not only bring the best opportunity for improving the already excellent services we provide across the whole of North Yorkshire, but it provides the best option for unlocking devolution.”

Members were told that councils have been invited to submit an outline bid to Government by November 9, proposing how unitary authorities could be created within North Yorkshire and York. Over the summer, experts at KPMG were commissioned to assess a range of options and propose a model for local government reform based on research and evidence. 

The East and West model would see Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton join together to form a unitary council in the West, and Selby, City of York, Ryedale and Scarborough join together to form a unitary council in the East.

According to the study, this East and West model would produce two unitary authorities with a similar population and economic size that meet the government’s reform criteria. The East and West unitaries would provide the strongest approach to unlocking devolution – potentially worth billions to the region in investment - whilst also being the optimum size for effective strategic and local service delivery to citizens and communities. The model also offers the opportunity to improve services and efficiencies in the City of York.

All seven district and borough councils have considered the study this week. It needs just one council to agree to submit the KPMG research study to form part of the outline bid to Government in November.

The evidence-based model for reform is being countered by North Yorkshire County Council, which is expected to put forward a bid for a ‘mega-council’ model. This would create a unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire, with a population of 618,000 while preserving the existing City of York unitary authority with a population of 211,000. This is contrary to the Government’s criteria, which sets the optimal population range for a unitary council at between 300,000 and 600,000 people.

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