'More questions than answers': Leader slams survey which claimed two-thirds of North Yorkshire residents support east/west split

The leader of North Yorkshire County Council has criticised a survey which claimed two-thirds of residents support an east/west split of the county - saying it "raises more questions than it answers."

Monday, 16th November 2020, 5:27 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 5:30 pm

The independent survey of 560 people was backed by six district council leaders who claimed it "clearly shows" most residents believe splitting the county into two new council areas is the best way forward for local government reorganisation.

However, councillor Carl Les - whose authority is behind plans for one single council to run North Yorkshire - said the survey suffers from a "lack of information" and that the county council would soon be releasing its own research which demonstrates a "very strong level of support" for its plans.

He said: "It is impossible to comment with any detail on these figures, given the lack of information provided by the press release, including what questions those surveyed were actually asked and what information they were given to make a decision on.

Councillor Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.

"We do however find it very surprising that no one appears to have been undecided in this survey.

"Equally surprising is their claim that 92 per cent of the residents of Richmondshire would support North Yorkshire being broken in half. The survey therefore raises more questions than it answers."

The study by Knaresborough-based researchers The Buzzz claimed only 30% of people support the county council's plans for one single unitary authority.

It also said it showed the pattern of preference for the east/west model was similar across the county - although residents in York were split.

The east/west model would see Harrogate, Hambleton, Craven and Richmondshire merge in the west, and Scarborough, Ryedale, Selby and York in the east.

The proposals are a part of a government request for North Yorkshire's current council structure to be simplified. Simplifying council structures is considered essential by the government ahead of any devolution deal similar to those agreed by South and West Yorkshire.

The final decision on which proposed structure to use will be taken by the government following a consultation in summer 2021.

Councillor Les added: "As part of our final submission of December the 9th we will be outlining how our own independent research demonstrates clearly a very strong level of support for our proposal to keep the county together and to deliver strengthened public services to every person in North Yorkshire.”

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter