Is a Town Council the right move for Harrogate ?

8 May 2024

North Yorkshire Council are asking the public to share views on new plans for town councils in Harrogate and Scarborough.

The towns are the only parts of North Yorkshire which do not have a parish or town council, and when North Yorkshire Council was launched in April last year one of the central pledges was that town and parish councils would be allowed to take on greater responsibilities.

Potentially a town council could work well for Harrogate, but only if the right calibre of individuals become councillors. The Libdem-led Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee, has a poor track record of delivering any tangible benefits to the town, but has demonstrated a will that Harrogate should grab any powers it can.

The problem is that the Town Council will add a further cost to each Council Tax bill, and it is not clear what powers they will have. That means it is impossible to make an informed decision if a Town Council is right for Harrogate.

But there has to be a concern that the Town Councillor positions would just be filled by the political class, rather than individuals that would work for the benefit of Harrogate.

There have been two previous consultations on the creation of town councils for Harrogate and Scarborough.

Both of these consultations sought to determine whether there was support for the creation of town councils:

  • At stage one, a total of 1,250 responses from Harrogate were received with 74.4% in favour of the creation of a town council.
  • At stage two a total of 1,698 responses from Harrogate were received with 65.5% in favour of the creation of a town council.

At that time, the plan was for the town council wards to match those of North Yorkshire Council.



In Harrogate, the plans were for two councillors representing nine wards and a further councillor for Saltergate, with 19 councillors in total.

When North Yorkshire Council considered the matter in July 2023 it was resolved that a further consultation be undertaken on the warding arrangements before final resolutions were made to conclude the review. It was not considered necessary to repeat the question about whether or not respondents wished to see a town council created.

But when those plans were put before members of North Yorkshire Council, they suggested that separate wards were created with 15 for Scarborough and 19 for Harrogate. Residents are now being asked to consider these new proposals.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for corporate services, Cllr David Chance, said:

The public consultation already carried out has shown that there is widespread support for town councils to be created for both Harrogate and Scarborough.

We now want to get the wards right so are asking for views on that before the end of this month. Then we can take a final decision to introduce the town councils which will provide more democratically-elected voices for both areas which is vital as we deliver key services.

To take part in the consultation log on to for Scarborough and for Harrogate.

The town councils would be formed for administrative purposes from April 1, 2025, and the first elections would be on May 1, 2025.

The cost of establishing the town councils would initially be borne by North Yorkshire Council, and then charged back to the new authorities.




Although parish councils have few statutory functions or duties (for example: things they have to do) there are many things they can do if they choose.

What they choose to do will depend on the needs of the local community they serve.

They have the discretion to exercise a range of statutory powers related to the provision or support of certain services or facilities which benefit their area, and/or the residents that live there, examples might include sports facilities, allotments, local youth projects, bus shelters, litter bins, off street carparks, community centres, parks and open spaces, community transport schemes, neighbourhood planning, crime reduction measures, street lighting, festivals and fetes, traffic calming measures and tourism activities.

The powers and functions of any town councils if approved will ultimately be a matter for any future town council. The information provided with the consultation provides examples of some of the services and facilities a town council might wish to provide. Should a town council wish to deliver services currently delivered by NYC they would need to put together a business case to demonstrate that they can successfully deliver such services.


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