Moves to abolish Ryedale and the six other district and borough councils and North Yorkshire County Council – replacing them with one “super” council covering the whole county, have been slammed by Ryedale’s council leader.
The move is due to be put before the county council today by its two UKIP members but Ryedale District Council’s Leader, Cllr Linda Cowling, said this week: “When this idea was discussed a few years ago it was rejected because it was not popular with the public.”
She added: “There is a big case for closer working between the borough and district councils and the county council but not having joint budgets. Such a big council would I believe, damage democracy because people would feel distant from the decision makers.”
Cllr Cowling said Ryedale District Council was sound financially and a well run, effective local authority.
Ryedale, which has a population of some 53,000, is the second biggest local authority area geographically nationally, while having one of the smallest populations.
But at County Hall today, UKIP councillors David Simister (Harrogate) and Sam Cross (Filey) will press the county council to initiate talks with the district authorities of Ryedale, Scarborough, Harrogate, Selby, Craven, Hambleton, and Richmondshire and to open dialogue with Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to create a new authority.
They said in a statement: “In these austere times, this is the only way we can make true savings for the electorate in the future and maintain frontline services.”
But Tory Cllr John Weighell, Leader of NYCC said that while he would “support the move 100 per cent”, Mr Pickles had said the Government would not consider creating new unitary authorities until after the next General Election in May 2015.
He added that most of the savings through creating a unitary authority would come from reducing district council backroom staff.