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Timing of Devolution Plans Criticised in North Yorkshire

Timing of Devolution Plans Criticised in North Yorkshire

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 3:22pm 16th July 2020.

Opposition leaders in North Yorkshire, which has been told to rapidly prepare for the biggest overhaul of local government in nearly half a century, have criticised the timing of the move.

Leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent groups on the County Council said while they were not opposed to the creation of one or more unitary authorities across the county and York, the huge amount of preparatory work needed would serve as a distraction for local authorities focusing on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The political groups were raising their concerns, ahead of an expected debate at the first full meeting of the Conservative-led authority since local government minister Simon Clarke told the leaders of the county’s seven borough and district councils, county council and City of York Council, that local government reorganisation had become a requirement of devolution.

The minister has given the nine councils until September to submit proposals to create authorities, which would provide all the services, rather than the current situation where district and borough councils provide services such as waste collection and the county authority runs services such as recycling centres.

He told the council leaders that the reorganisation would be a key part of the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy for the area.

But opposition parties said the reorganisation should be postponed as it would be hugely complex, soaking up council resources at a time when they were facing unprecedented pressures.

Leader of the council’s Independent group Councillor, Stuart Parsons, said:

“What on earth is the British government doing forcing local authorities to move the deckchairs at this time when all the resources should be on protecting people from Covid-19 and restoring the economy.”

Cllr Parsons said the September deadline had been designed to “sneak the reorganisation in the back door without letting anyone deal with the properly”.

He said:

“They are forcing it through because they know it is not popular with local authorities.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Geoff Webber, said:

“It is not the right time for a reorganisation in the middle of the economic collapse and pandemic. If you want to do something that’s unpopular, do it at a time when people can’t give it the consideration it deserves.”

Labour group leader, Councillor Eric Broadbent, said the government’s policy was ill-advised as North Yorkshire remained in “a very delicate stage of the virus”.

He said:

“Everybody is so busy doing a marvellous job trying to combat this terrible virus, this reorganisation is another distraction from getting on with the main job of protecting people. This is the last thing we want in the middle of a pandemic.”


There is 1 comment on this page.

Zen master7, on 16th July 2020 10:45pm
No time is a good time if your worried about keeping your job.
These builders of little empires will soon be caught out, the
Council is badly run, loses money and makes poor decisions
time and time again.
Too many middle management self preserved empire builders
who have been promoted with a wink and a mates help
who can't manage and don't want to make any
decisions that might rock the boat....your time is
nearly up!!

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