New organisation could shape future growth of Ripon
Last updated May 22, 2023
Ripon city centre

Ripon has been chosen to be one of five areas in North Yorkshire to pilot new community networks.

The networks will aim to bring together public, private and voluntary sector organisations to “unleash energy and ambition” and drive change.

North Yorkshire Council‘s decision to create the networks has generated controversy because members won’t be elected, leading to fears they are undemocratic and could duplicate the work of existing councils.

One Conservative councillor even branded them “crackers”.

But Ripon’s two councillors on North Yorkshire Council welcomed the move to make Ripon one the first areas in the county to trial the networks. Easingwold, Leyburn and Middleham, Sherburn-in-Elmet and Thornton-le-Dale have also been selected.

Cllr Andrew Williams, an Independent who represents Ripon Minster and Moorside and is also leader of Ripon City Council, said he and Cllr Barbara Brodigan, a Liberal Democrat who represents Ripon Ure Bank and Spa, both recognised the networks’ potential for improving the city.

He said:

“They will bring together groups across the city and create an opportunity to explore ideas and issues.”

Cllr Williams added the networks would “not replace any level of local government” but would allow people to talk more broadly about improving their local area in ways in which the constraints of formal council meetings did not allow.

ripon city centre kirkgate

Asked to give examples, he said the networks might develop a 10-year masterplan for Ripon or consider ways to get neighbouring parishes more involved in the city.

North Yorkshire Council isn’t providing any funding for the networks but Cllr Williams said this wasn’t an issue:

“It’s about considering what Ripon would look like in an ideal world if there was a magic wand and then going off and seeking funding for various schemes.”

He said he expected organisations such as Ripon City Council, Ripon Business Improvement District, Ripon Together and Ripon Museums to be involved.

Read more:

North Yorkshire Council’s ruling executive will meet on Tuesday next week to ratify the pilot areas, with a view to later rolling out 30 networks across the county.

Carl Les

Carl Les

North Yorkshire Council’s Conservative leader, Cllr Carl Les, said:

“The networks will mobilise communities, unleashing energy and ambition and giving people a stronger voice to tackle those issues that mean the most to them.”

Cllr David Chance, the council’s executive member for stronger communities, Cllr David Chance, said the pilot areas would “help us shape the model for the community networks as they are set to be introduced across the county”.