County council leader announces executive reshuffle nine months before elections
Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council. Picture: NYCC.
Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council. Picture: NYCC.

The leader of North Yorkshire County Council has announced a reshuffle of his executive team just nine months before elections are due to be held.

Cllr Carl Les said, while the majority of the positions on the authority’s executive would remain the same, he wanted to give more of his 54-member Conservative group “the chance to serve” ahead of the first North Yorkshire Council elections on May 5.

The changes, which are set to be considered by the executive on August 24, will see former Scarborough Borough Council leader, Cllr Derek Bastiman, brought onto the council’s leadership group of 10 members for the first time as the open to business portfolio holder.

The current open to business executive member, Cllr Andrew Lee, who represents Cawood in Selby district, is scheduled to take over the public health brief, which Northallerton Cllr Caroline Dickinson has held for several years.

Over the past 18 months Cllr Dickinson has faced scrutiny with one of the heaviest workloads of any of the authority’s members, having responsibility for the county’s public health response to the covid pandemic.

Cllr Les said the decision to replace her on the executive did not reflect her contribution or efforts, but the fact that the administration had been given a “bonus year” due to local government reorganisation.

He said: 

“This is no indication of Cllr Dickinson’s performance whatsoever. She has done very well. If you leave everybody in the same positions all the time the people who haven’t got those positions don’t have an opportunity to serve.

“It is a truism that if you don’t make changes other people don’t get a chance to serve. There’s got to be some change built into the system. I wanted to make some changes over a year ago, but covid got in the way and I didn’t think it was appropriate at that time to make some changes. Now we have got  bonus year.”

The reshuffle comes as the authority agreed to set up a working group to develop a proposal for government over the number of elected members and the areas they should represent on the new council.


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While there are calls to double the amount of councillors currently serving on the county council due to the additional responsibilities, it is understood many believe having 144 councillors would be unworkable.

Instead, some cross-party support has been expressed for limiting the new authority to 90 elected members, just 18 more than serve on the county council.

Cllr Les said responsibility for climate change action was being officially added to Pickering Cllr Greg White’s customer engagement portfolio as he was already undertaking the majority of the work in that area.

With 54 Conservative members, opposition councillors said Cllr Les faced a difficult task keeping all of his group happy and while balancing representation on the executive across the county’s six districts. In addition, they highlighted the changes meant just one executive member was a woman.

Opposition councillors also questioned whether the reshuffle was designed to prepare the way for North Yorkshire Council, but Cllr Les dismissed suggestions the changes signified any shift in direction for the council.

The reshuffle comes as the authority agreed to set up a working group to develop a proposal for government over the number of elected members and the areas they should represent on the new council.

While there are calls to double the amount of councillors currently serving on the county council due to the additional responsibilities, it is understood many believe having 144 councillors would be unworkable.

Instead, some cross-party support has been expressed for limiting the new authority to 90 elected members, just 18 more than serve on the county council.


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