New council pledges local services with easy access
A commitment from the new North Yorkshire Council to ensure communities remain at its heart will see hundreds of thousands of people given easier access to a vast range of public services.
The new authority launched at the start of this month, in the biggest overhaul of local democracy in the county for nearly half a century.
A pledge has been made that the council will have a local approach ingrained in its operations, despite covering the largest geographical area of any local authority in the country.
The leader of North Yorkshire Council, Cllr Carl Les, said the move presents a “watershed” in how public services can be delivered for 615,000 residents and nearly 33,000 businesses.
The new council will retain a main office in each former district area, supported by additional customer access points in the places people go, such as libraries.
Staff will continue to live and work in the communities they serve, listening to the needs of places.
Cllr Les said: “The launch of the new North Yorkshire Council represents a major milestone for the county and will bring benefits for hundreds of thousands of people.
“It is a watershed for North Yorkshire, bringing together vital public services in a way that will just make sense to people.”
North Yorkshire Council was established on 1 April, when the county council merged with the existing seven district and borough councils in a move which will also deliver millions of pounds in annual savings.
However, the move comes amid immense financial pressures on the public sector amid soaring inflation of more than 10 per cent.
It is estimated there will be a shortfall of more than £30 million in the new council’s revenue budget for the next financial year, which will have to be covered by the one-off use of reserves after some additional savings have been introduced.
By joining up services and maximising spending power, North Yorkshire Council is set to recoup between £30 million and £70 million, which will become annual savings.
However, the rate of inflation and growing demand for services such as adult social care will mean difficult decisions and creative solutions will be needed to realise the multi-million pound savings.
The launch paves the way for a devolution deal to provide more decision-making powers to local political leaders and millions of pounds in additional funding from the Government. A proposed 30-year deal for York and North Yorkshire, with an investment fund of £540 million.
A requirement for devolution was to replace the two-tier system of local government. Ministers approved a bid for a single unitary authority. City of York Council continues as a unitary authority.