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County Council Chief Exec Wants "a single, strong and sustainable council" for North Yorkshire

The Chief Executive of North Yorkshire County Council explains why he feels a single council for the whole of North Yorkshire is the way forwards.

The Government has asked the authorities in North Yorkshire to submit proposal's for the future of local government in the county, the idea is to merge the functions of the district and borough councils with those of the county council to create a single unitary authority, as is already the case in York.

Earlier this week the seven district councils in North Yorkshire outlined their proposal which would see the country split in to two unitary authorities, an Eastern county would encompass the Scarborough Borough along with Ryedale, Selby and York; a Western county would take in Harrogate, Hambleton, Craven and Richmondshire.

North Yorkshire County Council has previously expressed it's intention to propose a single unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire, now the councils Chief Exec, Richard Flinton, has explained some of the thinking behind that plan.

In the County Council's latest weekly new bulletin Mr Flinton says...

"Many of you will be aware that there are currently nine councils across North Yorkshire and York delivering your local services. You may also have seen some of the media coverage over the past few months about all of this. In brief, not only is this system duplicative but it is also expensive. Both ourselves and the district councils have been developing proposals to change that here.

Understandably, when nine councils are to become two, there are differences of opinion. The thing we all have in common is that both proposals have independently identified tens of millions of pounds in waste that could, and we believe should, be used to shore up crucial frontline services – critical and nationally recognised services that we deliver, such as children’s services including safeguarding, health and social care services and so on. We have spent the past months listening very carefully to you, our partners in health and the emergency services, town and parish councils, the community and voluntary sector, employers and wider businesses, unions and, of course, our younger generation. We have undertaken surveys, polls, focus groups, webinars and very many briefings to listen and build the strongest possible case for everyone in North Yorkshire.

We believe that a single, strong and sustainable council – serving every single one of you – delivering the best possible public services and lobbying for North Yorkshire nationally with a single voice – is the strongest option.

On Friday evening, all of these nine councils (including the City of York) received an invitation from the Secretary of State to prepare to submit their proposals and I want to do everything possible to ensure I keep you informed of progress. 

It is our view, and shared by many, that only a single council for North Yorkshire can deliver in the toughest of times, protecting excellent services we already deliver, encompassing the very best from each district council – and working extremely closely at grassroots level in communities to ensure that your voice is strengthened as part of this.

We appreciate the district councils do not share our view and I am sure you will hear much on that. However, our proposal retains the strengths and scale that are important in delivering key countywide services, while also being resilient enough to take the lead in emergencies such as flooding and the current pandemic. We are home to public health, health and social care, schools and childcare services and, of course, the resilience and emergencies team. We deliver many of the life-giving and life-changing services you need on your journey, but equally we deliver at hyper-local level all day every day in your community. Our safeguarding and health and social care teams help some of the most frail and vulnerable people every day, our Stronger Communities team is coordinating the community and voluntary sector response to the pandemic and supporting groups and individuals continuously – knocking on doors and keeping people safe. We care about the whole of North Yorkshire and our nationally acclaimed Trading Standards service takes it very personally when people come into North Yorkshire and rip people off!

We will propose only what we can deliver on, and those proposals will be based on knowledge, experience and understanding of the needs of people and places everywhere in our county. This is something I feel incredibly passionate about, as you may be able to tell."

Mr Flinton spoke about the proposal in a video he recorded in August.

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