Harrogate council requests interim-trustee body after it is scrapped


Last updated Nov 19, 2021
Harrogate Borough Council offices at Knapping Mount.
Harrogate Borough Council offices at Knapping Mount.

Harrogate Borough Council has requested that a charter trustee body is set up to take the place of the authority after it is scrapped.

The council will no longer exist in April 2023 after a county-wide unitary council is set up as part of devolution plans.

The move will leave the town with no lower tier authority.

As a result, council officials have requested to government that a charter trustee body in Harrogate is established after April 2023.

A charter trustee is a body which “preserves the rights and privileges” of an area which has borough status. However, it does not have any power to provide council services.

A report before the council’s cabinet said:

“Both Harrogate and Scarborough have Borough status, and in the absence of town/parish councils in the town centre areas, consideration needs to be given as to how to preserve the rights and privileges that accompany that status.

“Following a structural change, where there is no suitable local government body such as a parish council, charter trustees can be established to preserve historic property, privileges, rights and traditions presently enjoyed by local residents in council areas which will be abolished.”

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The body would be in place while a town council is considered for Harrogate.

Council officials will write to the unitary authority to recommend that it consider setting up of a lower-tier authority.

In July, Cllr Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said the creation of such a town council was “inevitable”.

He told a full council meeting that he had previously offered assurances that a Harrogate Town Council would most likely be created and that a review of services would be carried at “the correct time, in the correct way and by the correct people”.

According to a government letter to North Yorkshire chief executives, a structural change order, a parliamentary mechanism which would start the process of abolishing the two-tier system, is expected to be put before the House of Commons “around the turn of the year”.

What is a charter trustee body?

A charter trustee body is a ceremonial body which is set up when a district council is abolished and there is no parish in that area.

They were first set up in the 1970s as part of a wider range of reform in local government.

Councillors are elected to the trustee and a mayor is elected. The body is set up to “preserves the rights and privileges” of the borough and to continue the traditional roles carried out by the previous borough council.

The trustee body is funded through a local precept to fund administrative roles, such as the mayor. 

However, it has no legal power to levy a precept to run services that a parish council would, such as grass cutting or public toilets.

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