Strength of support for single new council ‘just common sense’

NHS partners, the police, the fire and rescue service, business leaders, charities and union officials all back North Yorkshire’s bid to drive post-pandemic economic recovery via a single new council.

Further analysis, drawn from public feedback, also demonstrates strong support for preserving the brand and values of North Yorkshire and the importance of keeping it intact, as well as protecting the City of York as it stands and having a single strong voice for the county at a critical time.

Our bid to reshape local government and pave the way for the best possible devolution deal with the least possible delay is now before government ministers.

Hear many of the people who support our proposal explain why:

Submitting our final proposal to the local government minister, Council Leader Cllr Carl Les, said: “The support for our proposal is undeniable and just common sense for North Yorkshire – that is what we are hearing. Our partners and the public have spoken to us with passion about the need to deliver the necessary change in the most effective way to minimise disruption and maximise the benefits to people and businesses right across the county.

Our report, which is more than 100 pages long, details the support for our proposals to protect the county’s brand, further strengthen public services and deliver a revolution in community empowerment. It is now a matter of public record and sits alongside our very detailed case for change.

“It outlines, with transparency, the polls, surveys, broad engagement with the public and our staff, targeted focus groups – including youth and disability groups – sector webinars and working groups that have helped officers to finalise our submission.

“We are incredibly grateful to every person who has taken the time to help inform our proposal – it is powerful evidence of our commitment to listen and the fact that we are, indeed, stronger together.”

Alongside demonstrating a good deal of local support, a number of key themes emerged from the conversations and correspondence with partners, businesses and the public:

  • Strong brand and identity is crucial – our businesses rely on the brand of North Yorkshire, which is globally recognised, and our residents feel they strongly belong to the county and want to retain and build on this identity.
    89 per cent of people in our telephone survey felt they ‘very strongly’ or ‘strongly’ belonged to North Yorkshire. In our focus group conversations, people declared themselves ‘proud’ to be from North Yorkshire and 87 per cent of respondents agreed that North Yorkshire has a strong identity which helps attract tourism and investment to the county.
  • North Yorkshire needs a strong voice to speak up for the county – in order to support economic recovery, drive the rural powerhouse and tackle our challenges, North Yorkshire must be able to represent itself strongly at the highest levels. The big issues in people’s lives – jobs, housing, transport – need a strong council to tackle them. The public wants a new council to prioritise economic regeneration, internet connectivity, public transport, affordable housing and the environment. These important issues, which make such a difference to people’s health, wellbeing and life experience, can only be effectively tackled at scale with the resources of a large effective council. This is particularly important when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of the county’s most rural communities.
  • Local must be at the heart of a new council – an understanding of place and the local delivery of services matter to people. 80 per cent of respondents agreed that our proposal for 25 local forums in market town areas would be a good idea to help businesses, people, health, police, council and local voluntary groups to work together on local priorities.
  • Simpler and more cost effective is better – people want to see services that are easier to access and good value for money.

Minimum disruption is essential to protect vulnerable people and high-performing services – people do not want to see unnecessary disruption to our outstanding services, particularly during and after the COVID-19 response. 76 per cent of respondents in our telephone survey were in favour of not breaking up the existing high-quality children’s and adults’ services by splitting the county into more than one.

The Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Gareth Dadd, said: “We are confident that the support across sectors and the feedback from the public demonstrates the lengths to which we have gone to explain our proposals and the amount of listening we have undertaken with key partners and very many people to help inform and shape it.

“We believe we have more than a good deal of local support, we believe we have demonstrated a really strong level of local support. We share our supporters’ passion for preserving the internationally recognised brand of North Yorkshire and for protecting countywide services, which are strong and effective.

“Importantly our proposal is grown from our own expertise and experience and can deliver the multimillion pound benefits of devolution, alongside considerably more financial savings than the alternative, in the shortest possible time with the least disruption for every resident in North Yorkshire and York. We are ready to go now. This must be about public interest and not self-interest.  

“We know we can draw on our expertise to bring together the very best of all eight councils in the county and deliver one best placed to serve individual residents, local communities, businesses and partner agencies. Our full case for change is now before ministers for their scrutiny and we look forward to their response in the New Year.”