Concerns Harrogate town council proposals moving forward without ‘any real idea’ about cost

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A councillor in Harrogate has raised concerns that North Yorkshire County Council is moving forward with plans to create a Harrogate town council without “any real idea” about how much council tax residents would pay each year and what they would get for it.

Harrogate residents will be asked to offer their views on a potential town council again next month.

It follows an initial consultation held by NYCC over the summer where 75% of respondents backed setting a new council up.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Harrogate Borough Council along with seven other district councils and NYCC will cease to exist from April 1, with all responsiblities moved to the new unitary authority, North Yorkshire Council.

Harrogate residents will be asked to offer their views on a potential town council again next month.Harrogate residents will be asked to offer their views on a potential town council again next month.
Harrogate residents will be asked to offer their views on a potential town council again next month.

A central pledge in the case for reorganisation, called “double devolution”, was that town and parish councils could be handed more powers if they can make a successful business case.

Knaresborough and Ripon both currently have parish councils that charge a council tax fee, called a precept, to provide services such as allotments, public events and small parks.

But Harrogate does not have one and its town council could be given control over its prized public buildings, parks or tourism strategy — although nothing has been decided.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite backing a report that recommends NYCC begins a six-week consultation from February 20, Michael Harrison, Conservative councillor for Killinghall, Hampsthwaite & Saltergate and executive member for health and adult services, said his support came with reservations.

Coun Harrison told a meeting of NYCC’s executive Tuesday: “We’re removing a layer of local government going to a unitary then immediately replacing one in the Harrogate area with another, there’s an underlying concern there. We’re creating a future tax liability without any real idea what that tax would be and what residents would get for that tax”.

But Harrogate and Scarborough are the only two areas in the county without a parish or town council. Cllr Harrison said that would be an “anomaly that doesn’t feel right” and would mean the council’s double-devolution aim would not be possible.

The new North Yorkshire Council plans to equalise council tax payments across the county, meaning residents in Harrogate are in line for a council tax reduction. Cllr Harrison said this move would “soften the blow” should an additional precept be introduced for a town council.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Harrogate Town Council parish would be divided into divisions based on those that will be used by North Yorkshire Council after April 1. There would be 19 councillors elected to the town council with elections taking place on May 2 2024.

Liberal Democrat councillor for High Harrogate & Kingsley, Chris Aldred, wrote to all members before the meeting to ask if they would consider organising the new council by Harrogate Borough Council ward boundaries. He said one advantage of this would be councillors would be able to represent smaller areas.

However, Coun Harrison said retaining the borough council wards would be confusing to residents. He said: “Harrogate Borough Council would have gone by April 1 so retaining wards would lead to confusion and undermine the credibility of new unitary. Making a break from those boundary wards is a good thing.”