Selby District Council has voted in favour of submitting an outline bid to Government showing an East & West model as one way to reorganise local government in the region.
Councillors were presented with a KPMG research study providing compelling evidence that the creation of two unitary authorities of balanced size would provide the strongest local leadership, the most effective services and the fairest democratic representation, as well as the most savings for local taxpayers.
Members of the Council approved submission of the case for change to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Councillor Mark Crane, Leader of Selby District Council, said: “Last Thursday at Full Council councillors voted in favour of submitting the East and West Model. This proposal will give the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government all the information they need to make a final decision on local government reorganisation in North Yorkshire.
“I am saddened that we’ve had to make the decision we did last Thursday. The best option would be for us to continue as seven individual district councils working in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council, so we can continue our efforts on supporting businesses and residents through the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this is not an option for us.
"I do believe that the East and West model is a fairer and more balanced model as it would result in two unitary authorities of similar size and opportunities."
Councils have been invited to submit an outline bid to Government by November 9, proposing how unitary authorities could be created within North Yorkshire and York.
Over the summer, experts at KPMG were commissioned to assess a range of options and propose a model for local government reform based on research and evidence.
The “East & West” model described in the study would see Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton join together to form a unitary council in the West, and Selby, City of York, Ryedale and Scarborough join together to form a unitary council in the East.
According to the study, this East & West model would produce two unitary authorities with a similar population and economic size, that meet the government’s reform criteria. The East & West unitaries would provide the strongest approach to unlocking devolution – potentially worth billions to the region in investment - whilst also being the optimum size for effective strategic and local service delivery to citizens and communities. The model also offers the opportunity to improve services and efficiencies in the City of York.
All seven district and borough councils have considered the study at democratic meetings last week before the government’s deadline for proposals. If one or more council agrees to submit the KPMG research study, it will form part of the outline bid to Government in November.
The evidence-based model for reform is being countered by North Yorkshire County Council, which is expected to put forward a bid for a ‘mega-council’ model. This would create a unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire, with a population of 618,000 while preserving the existing City of York unitary authority with a population of 211,000. This is contrary to the Government’s criteria, which sets the optimal population range for a unitary council at between 300,000 and 600,000 people.