About our bid

The Leaders of the district and borough councils in North Yorkshire are preparing a bid for local government reorganisation that is based on doing what's best for our people, places and economy.

Our citizens, businesses and colleagues are passionate about where they live and work, and all your views are important. So throughout our preparation period we'll be reaching out to different groups in different ways. We'll find out what's important to people, how we can build on what we already do well, and how we can improve to make things better.

We're listening. We're collaborating. And we're thinking. Because we want to get reform right.

New research carried out by KPMG shows that an East/West model is likely to deliver significant financial and democratic advantages over the county council’s plan to create England's largest-ever unitary authority.

The seven leaders are therefore working together, across party lines, to develop an east/west model that would “keep local government local” in the county.


This would create two brand-new councils across North Yorkshire and York:


• Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and York in the east

• Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire in the west


The leaders believe the new east/west councils would be large enough to be efficient into the future, but small enough to keep connected with our communities.

The model advocated by district and borough leaders would create an east authority with a population of 465,375 and a west authority with a population of 363,297.


This would create two equally-sized authorities around the 400,000-resident threshold that Simon Clarke MP, minister of state for local government, said is “optimal”. It would also deliver change in the City of York, which the minister said is “sub-optimally” sized.


The county council’s plan is to create a unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire with a population of 617,982, while preserving the existing City of York unitary authority with a population of 210,618.

For more information about the announcement of the East/West model, click here

Our bid will be built on three core principles:

The best councils are the voice of their communities

As district and borough councils we know the value of "local". As the providers of housing and benefits, we are a crucial part of the "life support system" for people in need. 

Our knowledge and experience at grass-roots level has proved invaluable during COVID-19. We have provided vital services such as waste and recycling.  We've supported voluntary services and dealt with huge increases in demands for benefits.  We've paid out hundreds of millions of pounds in grants to businesses. We have been at the heart of the response, because we're already at the heart of our communities - and we don't want that vital connection to be lost.  

We know that by bringing services together we can achieve economies of scale. There are lots of examples where we already share services - and with a new structure we can do more to shape, streamline, modernise, and give even better value for money.  But we also know that when it comes to service, size matters.

North Yorkshire County Council is putting forward a bid to run all of the North Yorkshire area.  If plans for this mega Council were to go ahead, "local" government would mean a council serving more than 600,000 people - and spanning a geography that is the largest county area in the country. "Head office" could be more than 50 miles away, and a world away from the diverse and distinct communities we serve. Services would become too remote, too distant, too disconnected to work effectively.

We don't think that's sustainable or right.  That's why we will build a model of local government which is the right size to give an efficient service, but that "lives locally".

Best for business

COVID-19 has taken its toll on our economy, and we will need strong and dynamic local government to support our businesses to achieve recovery and drive future growth.  

As district and borough councils we are close to business. We understand the micro economies and their needs.  We have the connections in place to work at pace, and do what needs to be done to create a greener, fairer and stronger region.  

As local councils, we know how important it is for local government to be responsive to the needs of businesses, and nimble when it comes to decision-making. We believe that any bid for local government reform should be designed with the needs of businesses in mind, so we can build jobs, skills and economic growth at pace.

If plans for a mega council go ahead, there is a danger that key decisions affect businesses and our economy will get caught up in a bigger bureaucracy, so businesses won't grow as far or as fast as they should.

We don't think that's sustainable or right. That's why we will build a model that's best for business.

Fit for the future

The government has made it clear that local government reform should cover all of York and North Yorkshire, and that it will mean the new unitary councils working in a combined authority under an elected mayor. 

For that to work, the new councils need to be balanced. They need to have equal influence and the power to speak up for their communities and be heard. There needs to be strong local democratic representation at grass roots level to stand up for citizens and give them a voice.

North Yorkshire County Council is putting forward a bid to become a single unitary running all of the North Yorkshire area (600,000+ people) with York (around 200,000 people) staying the same. 

This mega/minnow model of local government is unbalanced and simply will not work.  Either North Yorkshire will have a disproportionately high level of representation compared to York - to York's disadvantage. Or, if equal representation is created artificially, North Yorkshire will be disadvantaged. Either way, such an unbalanced model is inherently unfair, and will cause difficulties for the future mayor. It will mean important decisions get tied up in endless debate, whilst services and businesses stagnate.

We don't know the County Council's plans for democratic representation. But what we do know is that in the County Council's previous bid, they proposed slashing the number of local councillors by more than half, a move guaranteed to reduce citizens' access and make it more difficult to seek representation.

We don't think that's sustainable or right. That's why we will build a model that protects the democratic rights of citizens, and that works for everyone, equally.

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On behalf of the Leaders of the North Yorkshire district and borough councils

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