Plea to Boris - halt major council shake-up for Harrogate and North Yorkshire and focus on Covid pandemic

North Yorkshire district and borough council leaders have written to the Prime Minister urging him to shelve local government reorganisation for North Yorkshire, to allow the region to focus on the battle against COVID-19.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 9:44 am
Updated Monday, 28th September 2020, 9:50 am
Harrogate Civic Centre, headquarters of Harrogate Borough Council, whose future would be in doubt if a local government reorganisation goes ahead.

In July, Councils were led to believe as part of the government’s reform agenda that devolution for North Yorkshire could only be delivered if local government reorganisation happened.

The seven district and borough council leaders therefore began working together using an evidence-based approach, to identify an effective, efficient and credible way to reorganise, given that it seemed there was very little choice.

The leaders have worked with independent experts to prepare a possible local government model for councillors across all the districts and boroughs to vote on, if reorganisation were compulsory.

However, given that the region and the nation as a whole remains in the grip of a global pandemic, this week the district and borough council leaders have asked that government reconsider and allow devolution without the need for reorganisation.

The view of district and borough council leaders is that there could not be a worse time to dismantle or disrupt local councils when they are such a vital part of the front-line response to the COVID-19 crisis.

On behalf of the borough and district council leaders in North Yorkshire, leader of Hambleton District Council Coun Mark Robson said:

“There is no doubt the COVID-19 situation has worsened nationwide and this will inevitably put extra pressure and new demands on district and borough councils to further support our communities and businesses as we work through this crisis together.

“Let me be clear, this critical responsibility must come first, and we must not be distracted by an unnecessary, resource-intensive and ill-timed local government reorganisation.

“The letter we have sent makes this point in the strongest possible terms and we look forward to the government response with what we hope is a sensible and realistic way forward for North Yorkshire in these difficult times.”

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