City of York Council is set to support North Yorkshire County Council’s plan for a single council in the county ahead of a devolution bid.
Authority leaders in York said there is “no logical reason” for it to merge into a western council, as outlined in district leaders’ plan for two councils in the east and west of North Yorkshire.
At a press briefing, Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat leader of City of York Council, said the authority will submit proposals to government to remain as a unitary authority and effectively support the county council’s model.
That would see a single authority created for North Yorkshire, alongside the City of York Council, and the seven district councils scrapped – including Harrogate Borough.
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Senior councillors at City of York Council are expected to back the proposal at an executive meeting on October 22, before the proposal goes to full council later this month.
Cllr Aspden said:
“Following consultation, we believe proposals that cause as little disruption as possible to allow City of York Council to concentrate on recovery at this critical time is the right way forward.
“For this reason, the best way to support strong recovery, secure devolution quickly, and support the Levelling-Up agenda in York and North Yorkshire, is with City of York continuing as a unitary authority. Any other model of local government would fail to effectively represent York’s history, communities and the unique characteristics of the city.
“York’s unique character, beautiful heritage and strong history is recognised across the world. Protecting our identity, whilst keeping costs low and minimising service disruption for our residents, is of paramount importance for our future long term prosperity.
“Ultimately, any decision that affects York’s residents, businesses and communities, should be made in York.”
Cllr Carl Les, leader of the county council, said:
“We have been very clear from the beginning that we believe a new single council, bringing together the best of the county and seven district councils, presents the best possible opportunity for everyone in North Yorkshire.
“In preparing our proposal for government, we have and continue, to listen very carefully to a broad range of partners, groups, organisations, individuals and businesses over many weeks.
“We believe it is crucial to retain the identity of North Yorkshire and to offer every single person here the best possible chances in life and the same high quality services and support, regardless of where they live in the county.
“Our proposal also protects the unique identity of the City of York, which is already served by an established unitary council.”
It comes as Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for local government, invited councils across North Yorkshire to submit plans for reorganisation.
Councils have until December 9 to submit final proposals for the new-look local government structure.
The government said it would aim for any unitary council plan to be implemented by April 2023.