Labour on devolution: ‘North/south split makes most sense’ as Harrogate and North Yorkshire faces up to new future

“Harrogate and Knaresborough Constituency Labour Party welcomes the idea of devolution of powers from central government to York and North Yorkshire as long as the budgetary devolution promises made by the Government are adhered to for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, 15th August 2020, 3:53 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th August 2020, 3:54 pm

However, it totally opposes the idea of one authority based in Northallerton, as this would be too large and remote from the majority of a widely scattered population.

Harrogate and Knaresborough Constituency Labour Party would support the idea of two unitary authorities based on a North/ South divide.

What future awaits for Harrogate as a devolution deal is hammered out for York and North Yorkshire.

It has reviewed the option of an East/West divide along the A1 but has formulated the view that there is no logical reason to substantiate opting for this.

There are various options for a new unitary authority, all of them with positives and negatives.

Option one:

A unitary urban authority covering York, Selby and Harrogate, (broadly the southern councils that are all part of the Leeds City Region), and a unitary authority covering North Yorkshire rural area.

Craven district could align with either.

The City of York and the town of Harrogate both have an urban focus. They are important centres for retail, office, leisure and tourism.

Collectively, they have a whole series of well-known entertainment venues and events, with theatres, museums and art galleries and outstanding national and international heritage histories. They both also boast service industries and a conference/exhibition sector.

Population size: 457,000; or 513,000 if Craven is included.

Option two:

The issues with option one could be addressed by a new unitary authority being created from the Harrogate and Knaresborough town only wards of Harrogate District Council, with the City of York Unitary Authority and Selby District Council staying as they are.

Population size: 390,008 approximately.

Option three:

A Southern Urban Unitary Authority based on current parliamentary constituencies including Harrogate and Knaresborough, Selby and Ainsty, York Central and York Outer and a Northern Rural Unitary Authorities including Richmond (Yorks), Scarborough and Malton, Skipton and Ripon, Thirsk and Malton.

Population size: 398,755 approximately.

One of the key proposals from Harrogate and Knaresborough Constituency Labour Party is that the elections are based on proportional representation not first past the post, as would be the case for the Combined Authority Mayor.

This would increase public engagement in elections and with the new authority.