With the restructure of local government, and formation of a large council for North Yorkshire, with York remaining as it is, Harrogate Borough Council will no longer be an entity from the 1 April 2023.
From an initial consultation in 2022, NYCC has said that there will be an additional 19 councillors, and a likely, but not fully confirmed additional tax per household of £60 per year, raising £1.6million.
A consultation is currently running that is asking for comment on the makeup, but not the responsibilities of a new council.
The consultation is open and will run until Friday, 5 May 2023. Residents can take part at https://online1.snapsurveys.com/gk8nbd
From this consultation, it will go back to North Yorkshire County Council, who will then decide what responsibilities they would want to allow a Harrogate Town Council to have. That would then be voted on by the North Yorkshire County Council full council.
The proposals have received a very mixed response, mainly because the scope of the new council is not defined, making it difficult to comment on.
Neil Hind, the chair of Pinewoods Conservation Group said:
It’s difficult to ask our members for views on any new town council without understanding it’s role in supporting The Pinewoods and other green spaces of Harrogate.
We know from 1st April that the ownership and management of The Pinewoods will transfer from Harrogate Council to the new North Yorkshire Council.
Partly due to Covid, but also reduced resources, we’ve seen a reduction in management activities undertaken by Harrogate Council but are still unclear how the new council is going to impact us ongoing.
However, we are pleased that a representative is planning to attend our upcoming annual general meeting to discuss this with out membership. This may also make any future role of a town council clearer.
Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Cllr Richard Cooper, said:
At last we have some idea about how much this new council will cost us – at least at the beginning of its life – and that’s £60 per household per year. Many people will think that this is a lot particularly when we have no idea what this new Town Council will do. T
here are obvious questions with no answer yet.
Why do we need 19 new councillors when we are closing Harrogate Borough Council to create more efficiency in local government? How many new staff will they expect us to pay for to support them? What expenses will they be taking? But most importantly, what are they going to do in addition to what is already done?
I am not opposed in principle to town councils but until we have all that information it is difficult for me to make a compelling case as to why people should vote yes in the consultation. I will therefore be voting no.
Cllr Pat Marsh, said:
I totally support a Town council otherwise 77,000 Harrogate voices will be lost up at Northallerton.
All other places in the Borough have Parish councils, Knaresborough and Ripon being the largest ones and there are many other Parish councils speaking up for Residents in villages around the District.
If we don’t have a Parish council North Yorkshire will make all the decisions for us and they will have control over all our assets such as the Royal Hall, Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens, the Theatre and the Turkish Baths to name just a few.
They could. sell, close etc and there would not be a Harrogate voice whereas Knaresborough for example are discussing having control over Knaresborough castle, Knaresborough House and Conyngham Hall to make sure these assets are not lost.
We need Harrogate voices maintaining and enhancing our Town not voices of those who could live in Richmondshire, Scarborough etc. So yes a Harrogate Town council is essential to keep Harrogate as Harrogate.
Cllr Michael Schofield said:
I believe we are pushing through too much change in a short period of time. We can always ask for this at a later date. At this time residents do not need a further cost in a precept.
It is my opinion that the Area Committee (the forum of county councillors that were voted in for Harrogate) should be able to deal with all the afore mentioned issues.
We are adding in yet another level of beaurocracy which supposed to be removed due to Unitary.
We also most likely have a Mayor coming that will add yet another precept to the already financially pushed residents of Harrogate.
I believe a Town Council could wait so we can determine what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong with Unitary in a couple of years time.