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Leaders condemn ‘scaremongering’ over children’s services

The campaign for a North Yorkshire ‘super council’ has hit a “new low”, according to the county’s district and borough leaders.

Their claim comes after former Children’s Commissioner for England, Professor Maggie Atkinson, threw her weight behind proposals to create a single unitary council covering the whole of North Yorkshire.

Backing North Yorkshire County Council’s plans for a 620,000-people authority, she told the Yorkshire Post that vulnerable children would face the possibility of “falling in the gaps” if smaller unitary authorities were created.

But Professor Atkinson, independent chair of North Yorkshire Children’s Safeguarding Board, has been condemned for “spreading fear” while becoming embroiled in the “hottest of political issues”.

Speaking on behalf of North Yorkshire’s seven district and borough council leaders, Councillor Keane Duncan, who is leader of Ryedale District Council and a North Yorkshire County Councillor, said: “Spreading fear by using vulnerable children is a new low in the campaign for a North Yorkshire ‘super council’, and we condemn it strongly.

“Not only is it unwise for Professor Atkinson to become embroiled in the hottest of political issues, it’s extremely premature to do so before anyone has published their proposals.

“We’d like to invite the professor and the Children’s Safeguarding Board to remain impartial throughout this process and meet with us to give feedback on our proposal when it is complete.

“Our aim is to ensure the very best children’s services, not just for North Yorkshire but for City of York too, where Ofsted has identified areas for improvement.

“We should be sharing best practice across the whole area, listening to our parents and children, and most importantly, reassuring rather than scaremongering.”

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