As collective, the North Yorkshire borough councils recently wrote to the prime minister saying that they are currently too busy with Coronavirus measures to be able to manage devolution changes.
Under devolution plans, central government has said that there needs to be significant structure changes and that there are too many councils to be efficient.
North Yorkshire County Council have proposed a single-council mode for the county, while the seven borough council district have worked together to put forward a two-council model.
Cllr Carl Les, Leader of NYCC, said:
We maintain that what’s needed, now more than ever, is the strongest possible devolution deal for the 800,000 people who live in York and North Yorkshire. Only the full benefits without delay will supercharge the economy and support businesses here, as they strive to recover from the body blow dealt by the pandemic.
This view attracted powerful backing from businesses today in regional press.
Government has been clear that the ask of local government here, to be eligible for this full devolution deal, is to get rid of the current two tier system of districts and county, ahead of being able to reap the benefits of a full mayoral combined authority. We accept this position and do not believe the public would welcome a third tier of local government here or a watered down devolution deal under the status quo.
In North Yorkshire, the county council is very effectively managing its response to the pandemic with a multi-agency partnership, called North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum. This is not a single agency approach but a strong and ongoing collective effort involving the emergency services and health partners as well as county and district councils. Our ability to manage both of these demands is evidence of the importance of the scale and resilience needed to be able to be sustainable in the current climate.
The county of North Yorkshire is likely to face ongoing challenges, for example to its economic recovery and paying for services to vulnerable people. Reorganisation and devolution will help with this. Both proposals show very significant annual savings which we don’t want to lose sight of whilst we are under such significant financial pressures. We need to move forward with this now.