The East and West model of local government reorganisation will best achieve the Government’s ambitions of ‘levelling up’, according to the leaders of Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Scarborough and Selby district and borough councils.
The Government has announced that a new ‘levelling up’ white paper will be published later this year. This will focus on improving opportunities, economic growth and living standards across the country.
District and borough council leaders have welcomed this renewed focus – a key priority in the East and West proposal for local government reorganisation in North Yorkshire and York.
Councillor Mark Crane, Leader of Selby District Council, said: “We welcome this renewed focus on levelling up and economic recovery. This has been a key priority for us in drawing up our East and West proposal for local government reorganisation in North Yorkshire and York.
“Levelling up means ensuring that residents and businesses in all parts of North Yorkshire and York have better opportunities in terms of life, education, work and wellbeing. It means increased investment, high quality jobs, and affordable housing.
“We firmly believe that the East and West model is the strongest possible reorganisation option for levelling up, and driving future recovery and growth in York and North Yorkshire.
“Our proposal creates two balanced unitary authorities, with similar population sizes, GVA and tax base ratios.
“It unlocks the potential of York, by including the city within the proposals for reorganisation. York is a vital economic centre in North Yorkshire and has the potential to drive the growth of the sub-regional economy. Currently this potential is being left unrealised.
“The inclusion of York in the East unitary area means the city can grow and prosper while benefiting surrounding areas. Meanwhile residents and businesses of York itself will profit; specific issues around housing can be addressed through an agreed Local Plan, and other local services within the city can be improved in partnership.
“The alternative proposal for local government reorganisation in the area, put forward by North Yorkshire County Council, leaves York as a small unitary authority. This fails to maximise the potential of York, and also fails to address any of the issues currently facing the city.
“The East and West model will maximise growth opportunities by building on existing economic footprints, within a structure that makes sense to our businesses and communities. Our proposal will help drive the levelling up of the Northern economy overall, attracting investment and accelerating recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Government has also stated it is still committed to devolving power to people and places across the country. The East and West model is the only proposal that delivers two equal partners to sit within a Mayoral Combined Authority. This gives us the best opportunity to support strong, inclusive growth and the levelling up agenda.”
It has been announced that Neil O’Brien, MP for Harborough, will be leading the levelling up policy from Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.
Earlier this year, the Government held a consultation on the future of local government in North Yorkshire and York.
The six district and borough councils of Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby joined together to propose an East and West model of local government.
Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton would join together to form a unitary council in the West, with a population of 363,000. Selby, City of York, Ryedale and Scarborough would form a unitary council in the East, with a population of 465,000.
North Yorkshire County Council submitted a proposal to form one council across the whole of North Yorkshire, with a population of 618,000, leaving York as a separate, small unitary authority with 211,000 residents.
The district and borough council leaders are: Cllr Richard Foster (Craven), Cllr Richard Cooper (Harrogate), Cllr Angie Dale (Richmondshire), Cllr Steve Siddons (Scarborough) and Cllr Mark Crane (Selby).