Local government reorganisation: what might it all mean?

7 October 2020

There has been much talk recently about devolution and local government reorganisation, but what do these phrases mean and how might they impact on the residents, charities and community groups in North Yorkshire.

What is changing and why?

At the moment all major decisions about what happens across the country are made in London by central government. Devolution is the transfer of certain powers and funding away from London and given to local governments so decisions are made closer to the people, businesses and communities they serve. According to the Local Government Association, devolution provides increased flexibility and freedom for councils to more effectively improve public services for their local area.

The central government has indicated that in order for devolution to North Yorkshire to happen, the current two-tier system of a county council, seven district and borough councils and the City of York Council need to be simplified and turned into one new combined authority (a partnership of local authorities).

North Yorkshire County Council is submitting one proposed model and the district and borough councils are submitting another. City of York Council states on its website it wishes to remain a unitary council. Central government will make the final decision.

The proposed models

District and borough model

The seven district and borough councils are proposing two councils; dividing North Yorkshire into East and West.

West would incorporate Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton.

East would incorporate Selby, York, Ryedale and Scarborough.

They say the main benefits of this model are:

  • The two new councils would be large enough for efficiency but small enough to keep connected to the communities
  • The model would give two unitary authorities with similar population size to ensure parity of influence in the combined authority
  • Savings of £33m – £56m
  • Greater alignment with transport infrastructure driving economic growth along the A1 (M) and A64 corridors
  • Ensures strong local leadership and democratic representation
  • Unlocks the potential of York, allowing it to address key challenges around housing delivery, capacity and improvement of children’s services

North Yorkshire County Council model

North Yorkshire County Council is putting forward a proposal to have a single council for North Yorkshire incorporating Harrogate, Craven, Ryedale, Scarborough, Richmondshire, Hambleton and Selby, with the existing separate smaller City of York Council staying as it is.

They say the main benefits of this model are:

  • Strengthen the county’s voice at national level, being able to compete with similar size combined authorities such as Sheffield, Leeds and Durham
  • Saving in excess of £25m
  • Working collaboratively on common issues affecting the whole county, e.g. rural, market towns, tourism
  • Won’t split up outstanding high-performing services such as children’s services
  • A “double devolution” offer to parish and town councils and communities – offering flexible opportunities to run services and assets currently managed by the county and district councils
  • Provide a single point of contact for people, voluntary and community organisations and businesses, replacing complex partnership arrangements

Both models propose savings in senior management and back office costs and say they won’t come from front-line delivery services.

What happens next and how to find out more

The proposals will be submitted to central government on receipt of a formal invitation to do so. The new structure is expected to be in place in spring 2022.

To see more information and keep updated with timelines and consultation opportunities visit their websites:

North Yorkshire County Council: Stronger Together

District and boroughs: Get Change Right