Town councils could be created for Harrogate and Scarborough to ensure grassroots democracy is extended across the whole of North Yorkshire after the proposals received the overwhelming backing of people and organisations who responded to a consultation.
Scarborough and Harrogate are the only parts of North Yorkshire which do not have a parish or town council, and the proposals are now due to be considered by senior councillors.
More than two thirds of residents who responded to recent public consultations in the two towns were in favour to the idea of creating the new councils.
On 1 April next year, ourselves, Scarborough Borough Council and Harrogate Borough Council, along with the county’s five other district authorities, will be replaced by a new North Yorkshire Council that will deliver all local services.
A central pledge in the case for this change was that town and parish councils would be enabled to take on greater responsibilities if they want to and can make a successful business case. As centres of population without parish councils, residents of unparished parts of Scarborough and Harrogate were invited in summer to give their views on whether they wanted to create a council.
In Harrogate, 74.7 per cent of respondents were in favour of creating a parish council, with 14.5 per cent against, while in Scarborough the figures were 69.9 per cent and 18 per cent.
Executive member for corporate services, Cllr David Chance, said: “Parish and town councils have a vital role in representing their communities. That local voice is essential in understanding the issues facing a community at a local level and the needs of the people within that community.
“Although the new North Yorkshire Council will cover a large, diverse geographical area, it aims to be the most local in the country. We have made a clear commitment to work with town and parish councils, as well as other partners, to support and empower communities to drive local action and local priorities. Therefore, I am pleased that such a strong majority of respondents in both the Harrogate and Scarborough areas recognise the benefits of seizing this opportunity.”
The recommendation for Harrogate is that a new parish be established for the currently unparished area of the town, and that the new authority be called Harrogate Town Council. The parish would be divided into divisions, based largely on those that will apply to the new North Yorkshire Council after April 1. A total of 19 members would be elected to the town council.
Similarly, in Scarborough the recommendation is for a new parish to be established for the unparished area, and for a new authority called Scarborough Town Council to be created to serve the area. The parish would be divided into wards, matching those that will apply to North Yorkshire Council, and a total of 10 councillors would be elected.
In Scarborough, the proposed new parish would exclude the following areas:
- The unparished part of Eastfield Ward, which is recommended to form part of Eastfield Town Council.
- The unparished part of Charles Williams Apartments, which are recommended to form part of Newby and Scalby Town Council.
- The three unparished properties at Osgodby, which are recommended to form part of Osgodby Parish Council.
The county council’s executive member for stronger communities, Cllr Greg White, said: “Local voices are extremely important in ensuring North Yorkshire continues to be a great place to live and work. Town councils offer residents the ability to help to determine how the places in which they live look and feel. The benefits of local ideas and action have been seen across our county innumerable times, and never more so than in recent years during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Subject to approval by the executive, there will be a further consultation on the draft recommendations between February and April to allow final recommendations to be presented to North Yorkshire Council in the summer.
The town councils would be formed for administrative purposes from April 2024, and the first elections would be on 2 May, 2024, when councillors would be elected for a reduced term of three years. Elections would then take place every four years from 2027.