Executive unveiled for landmark move to North Yorkshire Council

This story was published 18 May 2022

The leader of North Yorkshire County Council has pledged to place the public’s wishes at the forefront of an overhaul of services after senior councillors have been appointed to oversee the landmark transition to a new authority.

Council leader Carl Les

The 10 new members of the county council’s executive were unveiled today and will be given the challenge of mapping out the creation of the new unitary authority spanning England’s largest county next year.

Cllr Carl Les has been confirmed in the role as leader of the county council, and has stressed that the biggest overhaul of local government in North Yorkshire for nearly 50 years will be closely scrutinised, and will be shaped by the wishes of the county’s 600,000 residents.

Cllr Les said: “The appointment of the executive is always a particularly important issue, but it is even more amplified this time around.

“The new members will be making fundamental decisions in helping shape the new authority before it launches next year, and we are committed to ensuring the views of all councillors and ultimately the public of North Yorkshire are taken on board.

“Every decision will be taken carefully and with the necessary due diligence to ensure that the new council is safe and legal from day one.

“As an executive, we will be looking at how the independent scrutiny of these decisions can be increased, with additional committee meetings as well as a greater frequency of when the scrutiny and overview committee meets as well.

“This is a time of huge importance for North Yorkshire and local democracy, and we are committed to ensuring that the transition to the new council is conducted seamlessly and with the interests of everyone who lives and works in the county at its heart.”

The new executive members will serve the final year of North Yorkshire County Council and will then be the voice of the public for the first four years of the over-arching single authority. They will shape what public services from education and social care to roads maintenance, refuse collection and recycling will look like ahead of the launch of the new North Yorkshire Council on April 1, 2023.

The new executive members are:

  • North Yorkshire County Council’s leader: Cllr Carl Les.
  • Deputy leader and executive member for finance: Cllr Gareth Dadd.
  • Executive member for business and economic development: Cllr Derek Bastiman.
  • Executive member for corporate services: Cllr David Chance.
  • Executive member for highways and transportation: Cllr Keane Duncan.
  • Executive member for health and adult services: Cllr Michael Harrison.
  • Executive member for growth and culture, leisure, sport and housing: Cllr Simon Myers.
  • Executive member for children and young people’s services: Cllr Janet Sanderson. 
  • Executive member for stronger communities, digital connectivity and climate change: Cllr Greg White.
  • Executive member for education, learning and skills: Cllr Annabel Wilkinson.   

The move to create the new authority, which will see the county council merged with the existing seven district councils, represents the biggest shake-up in local government in North Yorkshire since 1974, when the current two-tier structure was introduced.

A full meeting of the county council today confirmed the leader and new members of the executive on the authority, who will be instrumental in driving forward the re-organisation of local government ahead of the launch of the new North Yorkshire Council on April 1 next year.

Among the executive members who also represent a district authority is Cllr Simon Myers, who is the deputy leader of Craven District Council.

Cllr Myers, who is due to be appointed as the chairman of Craven District Council on Tuesday next week, said: “The importance of the new North Yorkshire Council cannot be overstated enough for the future of local democracy in the county.

“It is about providing a collective voice, with the county council working with the seven district authorities for the greater good of North Yorkshire.

“I am looking forward to the challenges ahead as it is a hugely exciting time for North Yorkshire.

“While I am privileged to be a part of the county council’s executive to help shape the way forward, I am committed to ensuring the views of all the district authorities are heard and help create the new unitary authority.”

Alongside the 47 Conservative councillors on the county council, the other political group leaders on the authority have also been confirmed.

Cllr Bryn Griffiths takes on the role as the leader of the opposition in his position as the head of the 12 Liberal Democrats and one Liberal councillor on the council.

Cllr Steve Shaw-Wright is the leader of the 12 Labour councillors on the authority, while Cllr Andy Brown is the leader of the five Green members.

Eight of the 13 Independent councillors who secured seats on the authority in the election on May 5 have formed the North Yorkshire Independents Group, led by Cllr Stuart Parsons.

The remaining five Independent councillors remain unaffiliated to a specific group on the council.

Cllr Margaret Atkinson has been appointed as the new chairwoman of the county council after a year-long tenure as the deputy chairwoman. Cllr David Ireton will become the new deputy chairman, before he is due to take on the chairmanship of the new North Yorkshire Council in the April next year.

The move to the unitary authority is necessary to secure a long-awaited devolution deal for North Yorkshire to shift a raft of decision-making and spending powers away from Westminster to the county.

The Government has stipulated that a key requirement for any devolution deal for North Yorkshire is for the two-tier system of local government, with the county council and seven district councils, to be replaced by a single unitary authority. City of York Council will continue as a unitary authority to run in tandem with the new North Yorkshire Council.

The deal to hand over decision-making powers and tens of millions of pounds in funding to political leaders in York and North Yorkshire is currently being negotiated with the Government, with an announcement on an offer for devolution expected this summer before public consultations are staged later in the year.

District and borough councils will remain until April 1, 2023, and the councillors serving on those local authorities will continue in their roles until that date.

Profiling North Yorkshire County Council’s new executive members

The executive members for North Yorkshire County Council will have a key role in helping shape the new unitary authority and how services are delivered for the public.

Here are profiles of each of the executive members:

For more than 20 years, Cllr Carl Les has been a member of North Yorkshire County Council, and the leader of the authority since May 2015.

He was the council’s deputy leader prior to his election to the role as leader, and represents the Catterick Village and Brompton-on-Swale division.

He was a member of the North Yorkshire Police Authority for 15 years and now chairs the Police and Crime Panel, and is also the finance spokesman for the County Councils Network.

Following his graduation, Cllr Les worked and managed the family business running a service station on the A1(M) before selling the enterprise and retiring in 2014. 

Alongside his business and council activities, he was a school governor and trustee, a chairman of the North Yorkshire Youth charity and the chairman of a Citizens’ Advice branch. 

He is also the volunteer commercial director of Wensleydale Railway plc, and lives with his wife in the village of Kirklington.

With a vast amount of experience in the small business sector, Cllr Gareth Dadd has played a key role in helping advise entrepreneurs in North Yorkshire.

A county councillor for the past 17 years and the authority’s deputy leader for the past seven years, Cllr Dadd is also a member of Hambleton District Council.

Passionate about the equality of opportunity agenda, he has devoted much of his spare time to helping local charities.

A former butcher and greengrocer, Cllr Dadd took early retirement when he sold his business in 2017.

He is the partner of Darlington MP Peter Gibson and lives in Thornmanby, and has developed a passion for horse-riding.

A veteran figure on North Yorkshire’s political scene, Cllr Derek Bastiman has been a member of North Yorkshire County Council for the past nine years.

He has held a series of positions on the authority, including the chairman of the corporate and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee and the chairman of the scrutiny board as well as the executive member for open business.

Cllr Bastiman has been a member of Scarborough Borough Council since 1995 and is the leader of the authority’s Conservative group. He was deputy leader between 2007 and 2015 and then leader from 2015 to 2019, and was Scarborough’s deputy mayor in 1999 to 2000 and the mayor from 2015 to 2016.

He left the Scarborough authority’s cabinet in 2002 to establish Yorkshire Coast Homes, which bought £22.5m of housing stock from the council and invested £30m in the properties. He then left Yorkshire Coast Homes and returned to Scarborough Borough Council’s cabinet with the portfolio for regeneration and economic development.

He has also been a member of the Local Government Association’s people and places board, the culture, tourism and sport board, and the innovation board

He has been a member of Newby and Scalby Parish Council, which became a town council on May 4 this year, for 35 years, and its chairman on four occasions.

Throughout his career, Cllr David Chance has held a wide and varied series of roles linked to tourism which is reflected in his work in public office.

Brought up at Ugthorpe, near Whitby, Cllr Chance started his career with Whitby, Scarborough and Teesside County Borough Council before embarking on a job with the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company.

He returned to local government in Ayr, before becoming the head of arts, entertainment and tourist services in Cambridge and then the director of tourism for the Ayrshire and Burns Country Tourist Board.

Cllr Chance was elected to Scarborough Borough Council in May 2011 and took on the tourism and culture portfolio the following year.  He resigned from the portfolio in 2015 when he became a cabinet member for North Yorkshire County Council after being elected in 2013.

He served as a member of the North York Moors National Park Authority between 2013 and 2015, and has also been a board member of the Stephen Joseph Theatre and the Creative Industries Centre in Scarborough between 2012 and 2015.

Cllr Chance has represented North Yorkshire County Council on the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority since 2016.

Cllr Chance lives in Newholm, Near Whitby, with his wife, Carolyn.

The youngest member of the executive at the age of 27, Cllr Keane Duncan said he hopes to bring a fresh perspective as the new unitary council is established, ensuring the needs of all generations are considered through the transition and beyond.

Born in Malton and brought up in Norton, Cllr Duncan has represented his home area for seven years as a councillor on Ryedale District Council and five years as a councillor on North Yorkshire County Council.

He was previously the leader of Ryedale District Council for two years, becoming the youngest council leader in Britain. During this time he was involved in leading the council’s response to Covid-19 and major flooding in 2021.

He has worked with other councils to push for a devolution deal for North Yorkshire and York.

Professionally, Cllr Duncan is a journalist. He started his career as a reporter in Teesside and then Grimsby, before becoming news editor at a regional paper based in Hull. He now works for a national newspaper.

Originally from Sunderland, Cllr Michael Harrison has lived in Harrogate since the 1990s and has been a county councillor for the past nine years.

He has been the executive member for health and adult services on North Yorkshire County Council since 2017.

Cllr Harrison has been a member of Harrogate Borough Council since 2004, previously serving as the authority’s deputy leader as well as a cabinet member for the environment and planning.

He has had a 30-year career in the banking sector and combines his work as a risk and security specialist alongside his council duties.

For the past decade, Cllr Simon Myers has been at the forefront of developing the economy in the North Yorkshire district of Craven.

He is the deputy leader of Craven District Council and has been the authority’s lead member for economic development for the past 10 years.

He has helped deliver £50m in projects including the £4.5m redevelopment of Craven Museum and Skipton Town Hall, alongside the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the Arts Council and Heritage England.

He was a barrister for 28 years with Chambers in London and then in Bradford, and he now oversees a long-running family antiques business.

Cllr Myers has a farm in Hellifield where he breeds Dexter cattle and has been increasing bio-diversity by planting trees and hedgerows.

He is also the vice-chairman of the North Craven Building Preservation Trust.

A music teacher for 30 years, Cllr Janet Sanderson has garnered a valuable insight into the challenges which children and young people face through the profession.

She spent eight years in Nottingham and a further 22 years working for North Yorkshire County Council’s music service, and has been a musical director of orchestras, bands and choirs.

Cllr Sanderson gave up her long-standing career to run for election on North Yorkshire County Council in 2011, and has been the executive member for children’s services for the past seven years.

She has held a range of positions for other organisations including a trustee for the Carlton Lodge activity centre in Carlton Miniott and a member of the Local Government Association’s children’s board.

She was a member of Ryedale District Council from 2011 to 2019, holding positions on the planning committee and scrutiny board and was also the authority’s Young People’s Champion.

Cllr Sanderson is married and has lived in Thornton-le-Dale for 33 years.

After an initial four-year stint on North Yorkshire County Council up until 2009, Cllr Greg White was once again elected to the authority in 2017.

He is a former member of the North Yorkshire Police Authority and the North Yorkshire Probation Trust Board, and a director of NUS Services Ltd, which provides services to students’ unions across the UK, and a Special Constable.

He owns and runs the Cleansweep chimney sweeping business operating across Ryedale, the North York Moors and along the Yorkshire coast, and also helps out as a duty manager for the Flamingo Land Resort in Malton.

Cllr White has also had a 25-year career in the licensing trade as an area manager with Scottish and Newcastle and Heineken and then as the chief executive of the University of Plymouth’s Students’ Union. He is also a fellow of the British Institute of Innkeepers.

He has resided in Lastingham since 2000, although he also lived in the village during the 1960s and 1970s, when my father was a local police officer.

Cllr White is married to Heather and they have three teenage children aged between 15 and 19.

An avid campaigner for rural issues, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson has lived in North Yorkshire for more than 50 years.

She was elected to North Yorkshire County Council in May 2017, and has held a succession of roles with the authority including as a member of the scrutiny board, the young people’s champion and the chairwoman of the corporate parenting group.

During her career, Cllr Wilkinson has been employed as a clerical officer working with the unemployed and as an advanced teaching assistant at a special educational needs school.

She has also been the owner of a retail business in Bedale, and was an active member of the Chamber of Trade and a local town councillor.

A former chair of governors at a Church of England primary school, Cllr Wilkinson has been a trustee for local charities and continues to be a trustee for the Rector’s Four and Twenty charity.

She is married with two children.