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Craven council backs East-West authority split as consultation ends

Councillors in Craven have backed the proposed East-West approach to the future council services in North Yorkshire.

A government consultation on whether to have one or two local authorities for the whole county closes today (Monday 19th April).

At an Extraordinary meeting of Full Council on Thursday, Craven District Council agreed to submit an official response to the consultation, and voted to support the East and West proposal - which would see the current councils for Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton join together to form a unitary council in the West, with a population of 363,000 - and Selby, City of York, Ryedale and Scarborough form a unitary council in the East with a population of 465,000.

Councillor Richard Foster, Leader of Craven District Council, proposed the motion and said at the meeting: “The way the consultation has been carried out, a lot of our residents haven’t and won’t have responded. It’s not a referendum, it’s an online consultation; it doesn’t make it easy for everybody. We’re the elected representatives and we ought to respond.”

The agreed responses set out why the Council supports the East & West model, stating: “This proposal will establish two balanced unitary authorities, which will work together in a strategic partnership and ultimately create a strong Combined Authority, with two equal partners. The East and West authorities will be large enough to deliver efficiencies and take a strategic view of services, but local enough to be representative of local people and businesses, and understand their needs and priorities.”

The Council also agreed responses to the proposal from North Yorkshire County Council 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 responses include: “This proposal produces a local government structure with less connection with local communities and the local economy. Our engagement has told us that many people want to retain “local” councils.”

The Council also agreed to send a letter to Government stating that this was the wrong time for local government reorganisation.

Councillor Foster said at the meeting: “We do think this is an awful time to be doing local government reorganisation. We are supposed to be building back. And so I believe a letter ought to go with that, and also just saying that the consultation of the local residents has been very, very poor.”

He added: “County submitted the first bid for this. We asked them not to but they did it. They started the process. We were told if any authority sent a bid in it would be on the table and it would be there. We felt the county one needed a challenger. North Yorkshire is massive. Putting Bentham and Ingleton with Scarborough and Whitby is a real problem. We know that, we know that from Highways and everything else.”

Councillor Simon Myers, Deputy Leader of Craven District Council, added: “I, on behalf of Craven Council, am greatly insulted by the suggestion from North Yorkshire County Council that it would in some way run Craven better because I don’t believe it would. I think we would run Highways far better on our patch than they do.”

The Government consultation closes on Monday April 19. To find out more about the proposals, and to take part in the consultation, go to https://consult.communities.gov.uk/governance-reform-and-democracy/northyorkshire/

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