Harrogate Borough Council

Borough Councils attempt to halt Devolution plans for North Yorkshire


North Yorkshire District and Borough Council leaders have written to the Prime Minister urging him to stop local government reorganisation for North Yorkshire, to allow the region to focus on measures related to COVID-19.

The seven district and borough council leaders have been working together to oppose the North Yorkshire’s County Council’s proposal of a single North Yorkshire council. The Borough Council have put together an alternate proposal of a two council model.

There would also be an overarching Mayor for North Yorkshire. That shouldn’t be confused with the ceremonial roles of the Mayors currently in post, and it will be a Mayor who’s political affiliation will be hugely influential to the county.

The Borough Council Leaders say they have worked with independent experts to prepare a possible local government model for councillors across all the districts and boroughs to vote on, if reorganisation were compulsory.

Although the development of devolution is at the very early stages for North Yorkshire, the district and borough council leaders have come together to try to oppose it. They have collective written to the Prime Minister saying there could not be a worse time to dismantle or disrupt local councils COVID-19 related work.

On behalf of the borough and district council leaders in North Yorkshire, Leader of Hambleton District Council Councillor Mark Robson said:

There is no doubt the COVID-19 situation has worsened nationwide and this will inevitably put extra pressure and new demands on district and borough councils to further support our communities and businesses as we work through this crisis together.

Let me be clear, this critical responsibility must come first, and we must not be distracted by an unnecessary, resource-intensive and ill-timed local government reorganisation.

The letter we have sent makes this point in the strongest possible terms and we look forward to the government response with what we hope is a sensible and realistic way forward for North Yorkshire in these difficult times.

Which Devolution proposal do you support ?

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Tim Cook, Editor, Harrogate Informer, said:

The Boroughs have run a disastrous campaign in communicating what their plans are around devolution. NYCC have been much clearer and more focused in what they would deliver, leaving the Borough Councils on their back foot.

Although the Borough Councils say they are the ones that know the people, it is difficult to understand why they say that. They sought to work only with selected media outlets and we have been removed from some communications – that flags alarm bells that their proposal wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Borough Council’s pitch that they are too busy with Covid-19 doesn’t really make sense as Devolution is down the line and not diverting resource from any support work.

County have actively worked to engage, especially with Parish Councils. That’s to their credit.

Amongst the political bickering and posturing, it does look like it is more a fight for local power than what is in the best interest of the public.


  1. This is confusing because the was a large article in the local news paper saying how good it would devolution would be

  2. I support the 2 council model because:
    * A single Council for North Yorks will be too big, too distant, and on the basis of current performance too inefficient to work
    * There is a geographic and cultural logic to the two council proposal
    * physical communication throughout the 2 areas is already good (road and rail), but east west links could be improved – and could form a priority for the new councils.
    * There has to be a question hanging over the continuation of Parish Councils. What do they actually do that is of value to residents for the costs involved?

  3. The West Riding County Council, once had the same structure as the London County Council and the surrounding home counties. However, with various government reorganisations the WRCC’s role was diminished and fragmented, while LCC’s responsibilities were increased to become the Greater London Assembly

    The fragmented councils of the North have recently been regrouped, as “Accelerated Assemblies”, in a futile attempt to manage cross border issued such as transport, while towns such as Harrogate are closer to Leeds and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (e.g., with LBA and the WY Metro) than to the North Yorkshire Combined Authority.

    The devolved government’s/assemblies of Scotland, NI and Wales are directly responsible for local Transport. However, the TfN separately reports to the DfT and the diverse group of Accelerated Assemblies. I don’t believe this is a sustainable model for managing regional issues, including transport and the environment.

    The over-centralised Westminster model of governance, I believe, needs to be revised to reflect a Federal Structure offering more regional autonomy, perhaps based on the boundaries of the MEP constituencies, or similar.

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