About our bid
Over the summer, the Leaders of the district and borough councils in North Yorkshire have worked together, across party lines, to develop an outline proposal for local government reorganisation that is best for our citizens, our communities and our economy.
The proposal is rooted in a detailed research study, carried out by independent consultants at KPMG. It has also taken into account feedback that citizens, businesses, Parish Councillors, voluntary and community groups have provided in engagement sessions and through the feedback mechanism on this website.
The councils of Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby have now submitted an outline proposal for change to the Government, based on the KPMG research.
The KPMG study shows that an East/West model of two broadly equal unitary councils is likely to deliver significant financial and democratic advantages over North Yorkshire County Council's plan to create England's largest-ever unitary authority.
The East/West model
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
East & West makes sense… for residents and communities
The Government has said that the optimal population range for a unitary council is between 300,000 and 600,000 people.
The East & West model provides two well-balanced authorities within those parameters.
To the east of the county, Selby, York, Ryedale and Scarborough have a population of 465,000 residents
To the west, there are 363,000 residents in Richmond, Hambleton, Craven and Harrogate
The East & West model also provides the most balanced ratio of working age and older people. This is important because working age people pay taxes that help to pay for the services councils provide. Getting the balance right means we can afford to do more, and helps to protect services for everyone for the future.
East & West makes sense… for efficient local services
The East & West model would mean two councils operating in the North Yorkshire and York geography, instead of nine. The two councils would be larger than district and borough councils are now, but each council would still be small enough to stay “local”.
Services that are currently delivered by district and borough councils would be delivered across a bigger geography. This would allow the new unitary councils to streamline the way they work and benefit from economies of scale, without losing the grass-roots connection that people value in their current district and borough councils.
Services that are currently delivered by North Yorkshire County Council across the whole of North Yorkshire (e.g. highways, education and public health) will cover a smaller area than they do now, so they can be more responsive to specific local needs.
The East & West model has the greatest potential for long term efficiencies, estimated to be at least £33m per year. These savings would be reinvested back into the frontline services that matter to communities and businesses, which means better value for money for the tax-payer.
Including York in the East & West model is important for the financial security of York. The City of York Council’s reserves are low, which could mean that York faces financial issues in the future if action isn’t taken. By including York in this new local government model, there is the opportunity to improve efficiency, make savings and reinvest, which York will not be able to do if it continues to stay separate.
East & West makes sense… for business
Local government restructuring must be able to support the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and drive economic growth for the future.
Reforming local government will unlock devolution, which will bring an estimated £2.2bn in additional investment to our region. That is good news for business. However there are some advantages to restructuring specifically on East & West lines.
The East & West model reflects the economic footprints that already exist in our region, and will allow the two new unitaries to maximize the growth opportunities along the major corridors formed by the A1(M) and the A64.
The creation of East & West authorities will also enable investment to be more evenly distributed, and will give us the best chance of “levelling-up” skills and jobs across all our region.
Most importantly, the size of the East & West unitary authorities will retain the close connections between local government and businesses, ensuring businesses continue to have a “voice” in the decisions that affect them.
East & West makes sense… for supporting vulnerable people
At this time, North Yorkshire County Council has provides adult and children’s social care services across North Yorkshire. The services are highly-rated, but financially unsustainable.
The City of York Council provides adult and children’s social care services in York. The children’s social care service requires improvement, but the council has low levels of financial reserves and is not in a position to invest significant sums in its services.
The East & West model has the potential to save the most money, which could be used to support important services, and allow York to achieve higher standards in children’s social care.
East & West makes sense… for democracy
Local accountability is an essential ingredient of good local government.
The best councils are the voice of their communities, and are structured in a way that citizens feel connected, engaged, informed and involved in democratic institutions that are strongly linked to the place where they live.
The East and West unitary authorities meet the government’s “optimal” size criteria. That means elected councillors will keep their “local” connections, will be accessible to constituents, and will be able to make their voice heard in an overall council that is not too big for a councillor to have influence.
East & West makes sense… for devolution
The government has made it clear that it will only devolve powers and resources to areas where there is a Combined Authority and an Elected Mayor in place. The Mayor and the Combined Authority will have an important role in driving economic growth and future investment in our region, so it is important that the structure is right, and works well for all.
The East & West model of equally-sized authorities would mean a fair and equal partnership within the future Combined Authority. This would give the Mayor a manageable structure, and the best opportunity to succeed in his/her role to deliver the ambitious vision set out in the region’s devolution proposal.