North Yorkshire Council: Five things that have changed in Harrogate
Last updated Mar 28, 2024

It’s one year since the launch of North Yorkshire Council reshaped local government in the Harrogate district.

The authority replaced the now defunct Harrogate Borough Council with the promise of making savings.

The changes in governance were far reaching, from taxi licensing to planning decisions.

The Stray Ferret has looked at the areas which have changed under North Yorkshire Council’s regime since April 1, 2023.

Taxi licensing

Probably the most controversial area to be have been overhauled by the new council is the licensing of taxi cabs.

Under the authority’s harmonisation agenda, the zone which taxis could operate in was widened to county-wide.

Previously, cabbies could only trade within the Harrogate district.

However, the council overhauled its licensing policy so that taxis can now operate anywhere in North Yorkshire.

In theory, the move would allow drivers to pick up business across the county.

Photo of Ripon taxi driver Richard Fieldman

Richard Fieldman, who runs his taxi in Ripon.

But some drivers did not see it that way.

Richard Fieldman, who operated his taxi cab in Ripon for 28 years, said the move would see quieter areas deprived of taxis during the busier times.

Planning decisions

One notable change under the new council is the overhaul of planning decisions.

Following its inception, the council created local area constituency committees which are made up of councillors from a particular area.

These committees also took on planning powers, but only for applications under 500 homes.

Any development which is above 500 homes or is a major employment site proposal goes before the council’s strategic planning committee, which meets in Northallerton.

In September 2023, a controversial plan to build a motorway service station off the A1(M) near Boroughbridge was referred to the council’s main committee instead of Harrogate and Knaresborough area committee.


Much like most areas which effect Harrogate, tourism is also being slowly absorbed into the new council.

The district’s tourism body Destination Harrogate was set up by Harrogate Borough Council and transferred to North Yorkshire Council on April 1 last year. So far, all employees have kept their jobs and are still working from Harrogate.

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However, the organisation has fallen under a county-wide review as the new authority looks to move towards a different structure.

North Yorkshire Council is now joining with City of York Council to create a new Local Visitor Economy Partnership for York and North Yorkshire.

Double devolution

One of the cornerstones of the Conservative leadership of North Yorkshire Council’s campaign for a single-authority was the pledge to let local people take control of local assets.

The promise came in the shape of the council’s double devolution agenda.

It would see town and parish councils given powers over local assets such as markets, car parks and public toilets.

The authority revealed in October that Knaresborough Town Council and Ripon City Council were chosen to advance bids to take control over some of their assets.

Knaresborough Town Council’s application to manage the town’s markets, storage facility and associated assets such as road closure signs is being progressed to a full business case.

Meanwhile, the council has considered a project team to work with Ripon City Council on its bid as it was deemed “particularly ambitious”.

It included management of Ripon Town Hall, Market Place and Car Park, public toilets within the city and the Wakeman’s House listed building.

Council tax harmonisation

As part of its harmonisation plans, the council also sought to level out council tax across North Yorkshire.

This saw the rate which people pay in the Harrogate district equalled with that in Ryedale, Richmondshire, Scarborough, Hambleton and Craven.

At the time, Harrogate’s council tax was the highest in North Yorkshire at £1,723.27 for the year. 

A decision was taken to bring council tax levels up to Harrogate’s rate in order to raise £11.3 million.

Councillors had considered bringing down rates in line with the lowest amount at the time, which was Hambleton – however, council officials warned this would see annual funding raised by bills fall by £21 million.