Get answers to common questions about devolution and the move to a single council for everyone in North Yorkshire.

As part of the process to secure devolution the government said we had to get rid of our current two tier system of local government - with eight councils delivering public services, us as the county council and seven district or borough councils - to pave the way for a mayoral-led combined authority.

This would unlock a devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire and is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to attract all of the money and powers to drive post pandemic economic recovery that go with it.

On 21 July the government decided that the current councils would be replaced by a new, single council for everyone in North Yorkshire with City of York Council remaining as it is.

What will change and when?

The new North Yorkshire Council will officially start in April 2023. Until then, services will continue to be provided by ourselves and the seven district or borough councils.

What is the impact of your proposal on the City of York?

City of York Council, which is already a unitary council, will remain separate with no changes to services. The new, single council for North Yorkshire will work in close collaboration with the City of York Council.

What would devolution mean?

At the moment, the government in London makes the majority of decisions about what happens here in Yorkshire. Some decisions, such as about foreign policy and defence, need to be made by central government alone.

Our proposition for devolution reflects that many others, including running and investing in our public transport, education and skills and providing support for our businesses, would deliver better outcomes, increased returns to government and would involve local people more - if they were made here in our own county, by the people who live and work in those communities.

A devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire could potentially unlock around £2.4bn of investment over 30 years, with a focus on improving the economic prosperity and future long term opportunities for all residents.

Our vision for devolution is for North Yorkshire and York to become England’s first carbon negative economy, where people with the skills and aspiration to reach their full potential, earn higher wages and live healthy lives in thriving communities.

Our deal would see hundreds of millions of pounds invested in North Yorkshire and York to shape a better destiny and make a bigger contribution to the UK economy by:

  1. delivering 100% digital connectivity for everyone, everywhere - vital for the long-term prosperity of our region. This means both addressing the last 5% while ensuring our towns and cities are as connected as core cities delivering a connected, smart region.
  2. innovating in our unique capabilities in bio-economy and low carbon technologies, underpin our ambition to become England’s first carbon negative region creating new industry opportunities in higher productivity sectors
  3. leveraging our skills base - our greatest asset is our highly skilled workforce. Capitalising on this and retaining our young talent by creating high value jobs will drive our growth
  4. investing in good businesses with great leadership that prosper from our distinct assets and contribute to a carbon negative region
  5. developing healthy, thriving places that are resilient to climate change and provide energy efficient, affordable housing for our residents

Download our executive report on the devolution deal for North Yorkshire and York to read the full proposal.

How did residents have a say on the decision?

Two proposals were put forward. We proposed to create a new, single council for North Yorkshire with City of York Council, which is already a unitary council, remaining as it is. City of York Council supported this proposal.

Six of the seven district councils in North Yorkshire proposed to create two new unitary councils – East North Yorkshire (including Scarborough, Ryedale, Selby and York) and West North Yorkshire (Hambleton, Richmondshire, Harrogate and Craven).

The three criteria which had to be met before a proposal was accepted were:

  • is likely to improve local government and service delivery across its area
  • commands a good deal of local support as assessed in the round overall across the whole area of the proposal
  • any unitary councils to be established have a credible geography

The government carried out a consultation which asked a number of questions about each proposal around value for money, proposed geography of the council and impact of the proposal on local services.

There were 4,297 responses from residents, councils in neighbouring areas, health providers, the police, businesses, voluntary groups and educational bodies. The overall response from residents was:

  • 52% said our proposal would improve services compared to 27% for the alternative proposal
  • 53% supported our proposal compared to 27% for the alternative proposal
  • 52% thought the geography of our proposal was credible compared to 32% for the alternative proposal

Read more about the government consultation and see the summary of responses.

What happens to my local councillor?

County Council elections will take place in May 2022 and the councillors elected will continue on as councillors for the new, single council when it begins in April 2023.

District councillors will continue in their current capacity until April 2023.

Will this mean less representation for my local area?

No. While there would no longer be district councillors, many county councillors already represent both councils.

The new council will create six strong Area Committees where local councillors, clearly accountable to the public for all local authority services, will meet.

These Area Committees will be based on the boundaries of our six North Yorkshire MPs. They will be decision-making bodies with delegated powers in the area of planning, licensing, public rights of way, highways and potentially other areas. They will have locality budgets to deal with local issues and local opportunities.

People will be able to develop and progress local priorities by being part of Community Networks. There will be around 25 of these networks made up of community and business groups, town and parish councils and representatives from other local groups and public services, including local councillors. These networks will work with their local Area Committees and councillors to get things done.

Powers will be also devolved to community groups and town and parish councils to run assets and services where they want to.

What services are currently delivered by which council and what would change?

Services are currently split between the district councils and the county council, with some services also provided by both. District councils collect waste and we dispose of it. Districts sweep the streets, but we look after the roads. Districts adapt vulnerable people’s homes, while we help those people live happily at home for as long as possible.

When the new, single council begins in April 2023, it will deliver all of the services.

The services currently delivered by county and district councils are listed below.

County Council

District Council

County and District Council

Births, deaths and marriage registration

Building regulations

Arts and recreation

Children's services

Burials and cremations

Economic development

Concessionary travel

Coastal protection

Museums and galleries

Consumer protection

Community safety

Parking

Education - including special educational needs, adult education and pre-school

Council tax and business rates

Planning

Emergency planning

Elections and electoral registration

Tourism

Highways (excluding trunk roads), street lighting and traffic management

Environmental health

 

Libraries

Housing and housing benefits

 

Minerals and waste planning

Licensing

 

Passenger transport (buses) and transport planning

Markets and fairs

 

Public health

Sports centres, parks and playing fields

 

Social services - including care for the elderly and community care

Street cleaning

 

Trading standards

Waste and recycling collection

 

Waste disposal

Public toilets

 

Would this just cost money to achieve the same services we already have?

No. There will be a £30 million saving just by reorganising into a single council which also unlocks other saving opportunities.

Independent expert financial analysis of the proposal has shown that it would save as much as £252 million over five years. This will be vital to support frontline services, with the majority of savings linked to better procurement, contracts and property.

Will my Council Tax change?

The new council will decide how to introduce a fairer structure for future Council Tax, as the tax is currently at different levels in different parts of the county. 

Whatever approach the new council takes to standardise Council Tax rates, there would be implications for local residents. Currently, residents of some districts pay relatively low rates, whereas others pay comparatively high rates.

However, given the financial benefits that the new council will bring, it is believed that there is a good opportunity to use some of that benefit to help cushion any increases in council tax for those currently at the lower levels.

How will services remain local?

We already successfully deliver a number of vital services at a very local level across North Yorkshire with over 80% of total local government spend in the area being delivered by the county council.

We work with local people intimately every day delivering social care, educating children and offering support for families and businesses across every parish of the county. In many cases these are very personal services provided to people at the most local level possible – in their own homes.

The new council will build on this approach, ensuring that services are delivered from local offices by staff who understand local communities and are often themselves part of those communities.

The new council will focus on tackling local challenges through strategies and plans for each locality developed by Community Networks.

This local approach is based on:

  • local services and access – locally based and integrated council, partner and community services
  • local accountability - six Area Committees, accountable for the discharge of statutory functions and services at local level
  • local action – local people, partners and communities coming together in new Community Networks to identify and deliver against priorities
  • local empowerment – devolution of powers to community groups and town and parish councils to run assets and services where they want to

Will the council be based in Northallerton and will all services delivered from there?

While the new council will decide where their base and headquarters will be situated, local area offices will be created in each of the former districts based in key community buildings such as libraries or co-located with other public service partners. Each main office will also have a dedicated face-to-face customer access point delivered by the council, with the capability to meet complex customer demand from services like social care and housing.

Main offices will be connected to communities by a network of over 30 community access points, in key towns and villages, providing access to council and partner services.

Frontline staff and partners will be based in communities supported by key specialists. Technology will enable staff and partners to be connected to colleagues whilst being based locally.

How will Community Networks work?

Community Networks will act as agents for social change and places of collaboration between public sector agencies and the communities they serve. They will be centred around market towns, surrounding villages and natural communities in North Yorkshire. Around twenty-five Community Networks will be formed comprising community and business groups, town and parish councils and representatives from other local groups and public services, including local councillors.

Every network will be supported by a Local Area Coordinator. The Coordinator will support local people to work with public service providers to develop their own action plans and to set their own priorities for delivery and social action. These could include, for example, a cultural programme for the town, engagement activities for young people, activities to bring people together locally and to reduce isolation or improvements to the look and feel of the high streets.

Each Community Network would be assigned one of the most senior managers from within the new council. This will make sure there are strong connections back into the council and with partners and ensure senior managers understand local issues.

The new council will support and promote community-led schemes such as community transport and community housing as an important part of local service delivery.

Area Committees will have a role in championing Community Network action plans and holding the council and its partners to account for the delivery of local priorities.

What types of services will be devolved to parish & town councils and community groups?

Representatives from parish and town councils have worked with us to identify the types of service that could potentially be devolved from the new council.

Assets Services
  • Cemeteries and church yards
  • Crematoria
  • Community centres
  • Allotments
  • Public toilets
  • Local parks
  • Open spaces - including both greenspaces as well as "hard" open spaces
  • Sports grounds
  • Swimming pools
  • Play areas
  • Off and on-street car parking provision and management
  • Memorials
  • Roadside verges and other small open spaces
  • Leisure and arts centres
  • Minor Highways functions such as minor road and footpath repairs, lining, signage
  • Grass cutting and open space maintenance (gullies, verges, drainage, closed churchyards)
  • Fly tipping
  • Street cleaning
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Recycling management
  • Health & Wellbeing - Isolation/Volunteering/ Befriending
  • Community libraries
  • Community transport
  • Community safety / neighbourhood watch
  • Footpath lighting
  • Community grants
  • Local tourism
  • Local town economic development
  • Local climate change initiatives (for example local green transport schemes while ensuring unitary has strategic overview)
  • Homelessness and social housing liaison and provision
  • Monitoring and enforcement of environmental health matters
  • Control of markets
  • Street naming
  • Licensing - event notices, street trading etc

Town & Parish councils and communities will be able to take on services where they want to.

Do town and parish councils, parish meetings and communities have the skills and the capacity to deliver devolved services?

Parish and town councils and parish meetings come in all shapes and sizes and operate in different ways – some with high levels of expertise, others with development needs.

The new council will work with them all, recognise their value and help with development when needed. Crucially it will empower them to do more if they want to do so.

The new council will work with any town and parish council that wants to do more, for example, to deliver or commission services; providing they are able to demonstrate value for money and the ability to deliver. If these conditions are met then the new council will be open to funding the arrangements. The council would work with a first wave of forerunner town and parish councils to develop the concept. Other town and parish councils could then follow.

What will the impact be on local government jobs in North Yorkshire? 

As the new council's boundaries fit the existing county council area, we will be what's called the "continuing authority" which means our staff will automatically transfer into the new council. Staff from district and borough councils will TUPE transfer to the new council.

Most existing staff will continue to deliver services. The most savings are likely to be achieved where there is most duplication, such as senior management and back office systems. The new council will look to bring together the best from the seven districts and the current county council and to ensure minimal impact on the public and the services they need. 

Office structures and arrangements will be decided by the new council with the most senior posts (including the chief executive) being filled following an open and competitive process.

The proposal for the new council was backed by the North Yorkshire branch of Unison who reviewed it and concluded that this change will minimise disruption to services and staff, protect jobs and avoid compulsory redundancies and help to level-up terms, conditions and pay across local government employees in the county. 

What benefits will the new council have for the environment?

The York and North Yorkshire Local Industrial Strategy sets out our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2034 and then to become England’s first carbon negative economy by 2040. North Yorkshire emitted 255 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2017 and has higher emissions per person than average for England (but a lower emission per square kilometre). This is partly due to the rurality of the county and our corresponding reliance on private vehicles.

We are facing more and more challenges caused by extreme weather events. The county has suffered from several flooding events in recent years, with our infrastructure being impacted significantly and often at key locations where there are very limited alternative routes.

Due to North Yorkshire’s geography and scale, the new, single council will be best placed to develop a strategic approach to maximising the value of natural capital assets and reduce net carbon emissions. This approach could include carbon sequestration, agriculture, land management, flood prevention and initiatives such as the Northern Forest.

The new council will have the scale to capitalise upon our unique industrial capabilities and nationally significant business base in low carbon energy, such as Drax power station. This means North Yorkshire has the potential to host future large-scale carbon capture, usage and storage plants and develop high capacity renewables. The new council will be supportive of the devolution ambition to:

  • deliver low carbon housing retrofit programmes across North Yorkshire’s highly dispersed, off gas grid homes
  • deliver local renewable energy generation initiatives
  • develop commercial models to stimulate the market such as a low-cost finance programme with technology providers
  • finance smaller, ‘low value’ projects to reach carbon-neutral targets within the region
  • focus on Carbon Capture Utilisation and scaling up rapidly emerging technology and infrastructure to transport, store and use the captured carbon
  • deliver low carbon sustainable travel initiatives such as Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle public transport and Electric Vehicle charging facilities