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North Yorkshire is home to just over 600,000 people living in around 256,600 households. The county covers an area of 803,761 hectares and is predominantly rural. Broken down by population: 21% of people live in the two major towns (Harrogate and Scarborough) while 32% of people live in areas defined as 'sparse' (between 130 and 1,036 people per square mile) and 24% live in 'super sparse' areas (fewer than 129 people per square mile).
The county has a well diversified economy. The importance of the financial and business services sector has grown and the service sector such as tourism jobs makes up the majority of employment. Manufacturing retains its importance, particularly the food and drink sector. High levels of self employment and employment in small businesses are vital to the rural areas of the county as are the strong tourism and agriculture sectors.
What is North Yorkshire County Council?
North Yorkshire County Council is made up of an elected assembly of 72 councillors. The council is responsible for providing a wide range of public services to the people of the county.
As a democratically elected body and community leader, we act as a champion and spokesperson for North Yorkshire and its people. We aim to listen to our communities and take action on their behalf to make North Yorkshire an even better place to live for everyone. Our councillors, elected by the people of North Yorkshire, are active in their local communities responding to the needs of the public and addressing important local issues.
The council also represents and promotes the interests of North Yorkshire when dealing with regional, national and international affairs.
The council's responsibilities are determined by Parliament with county council elections held every four years. The most recent local election was held in June 2009 and the next one is expected to be held in 2013.
Constitution and structure of the council
North Yorkshire County Council is a 'top-tier' council. This means that it provides important local services across the whole county. We work with 'second-tier' district councils who provide different but complementary services in different parts of the county. In this two-tier system, we as a county council are responsible for local services such as education, social care services, and roads, whilst district councils run other services, such as waste collection, local planning, and council housing. An executive of seven councillors meets on a fortnightly basis to make decisions to implement the council's policies and budgets. Five overview and scrutiny committees examine the executive's decisions while the full council of 72 councillors ratifies executive's decisions.
Major issues to be discussed are published in the executive's Forward Plan [326kb] [pdf] which describes the decisions to be made, who is responsible for making them and when.
By law, the executive is not allowed to make some decisions. So, in addition to the executive we have regulatory committees to make decisions on issues such as planning and highways.
The decision-making structure is designed to make the council's processes more transparent. The Council's constitution sets out how the council operates, how decisions are made and the rules and procedures which are followed to make sure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people.
North Yorkshire County Council has a commitment to open government and freedom of information. Public discussions about our policies and the services we provide is an important part of effective local democracy. We therefore give as much information as we can to local people and the press.
You have a right to see decision making in action and the background information to Council decisions. The great majority of meetings are open to the public throughout, but the committee may resolve to meet in private when discussing personal details about individuals or commercial information about contracts.
Services the council provides
We serve almost 600,000 residents in North Yorkshire 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Visitors to the county can boost this figure considerably at certain times throughout the year. We provide important local services such as schools, social care services, youth services, libraries, roads, public rights of way, heritage and countryside management, public transport, street lighting, trading standards, consumer advice, registration of births, deaths and marriages, and disposal and recycling of waste.
Our role is to also promote the wellbeing of the people of North Yorkshire. For example, we are responsible for protecting children from harm and abuse, protecting our citizens from falling victim to rogue traders, dealing with emergency situations, and protecting North Yorkshire's environment.
North Yorkshire County Council is made up of five service areas - chief executive's group, adult and community services, business and environmental services, children and young people's services and financial and central services - which are responsible for providing a wide range of services for the people of North Yorkshire.
North Yorkshire's history
The area covered by North Yorkshire has a rich history and heritage. Neolithic monuments include the Thornborough Henges, described as the "Stonehenge of the North". Evidence of the Roman era varies from the remains of the northern capital at Aldborough, to the extensive routes of Roman roads. The Medieval age has left perhaps the most impressive legacy across North Yorkshire with a large number of abbeys and castles, including the world heritage site Fountains Abbey.
The Modern age saw the advent of industrialisation in the area now known as the North Riding of Yorkshire, which then became a county council in 1889. This was abolished in 1974 and the new county of North Yorkshire was formed, which included York until the formation of the City of York Council in 1996.
Where are we now?
We share our vision with other partners in the North Yorkshire. It is:
'We want North Yorkshire to be an even better place for everyone to live, work or visit.'
To achieve this vision we need to work with partner agencies and also play our part as an individual organisation. We therefore aim to provide excellent and efficient local services that support our vision, enabling everyone to fulfil their potential. Our objectives make clearer the kinds of things we need to focus on.
To achieve our vision we aim to:
In 2011 -12 we will be focussing on four key priorities:
Facts and figures about the County Council and North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire County Council in numbers
North Yorkshire in numbers