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Devolution and unitarisation updates

Government backs York and North Yorkshire

Devolution and unitarisation update, published Wednesday, 21 July 2021: Government backs York and North Yorkshire

The Government has today backed York, following the consultation on local government structures in York and North Yorkshire.

The Government has announced that City of York Council will remain a unitary authority in its own right, alongside a new North Yorkshire unitary authority covering North Yorkshire County Council’s current footprint.

During May and June, the Government considered proposals to remove 2-tier local government in North Yorkshire by inviting key stakeholders to express a view on the proposals submitted, as well as provided local residents, businesses and organisations a chance to express their views direct to Government.

The consultation considered two proposals:

  • The North Yorkshire proposal would create a single new unitary authority covering North Yorkshire County Council’s existing footprint, with York remaining as a unitary authority in its own right.
  • The East/West model proposed by the six of the seven District Councils would remove all existing councils in North Yorkshire and York and merge them into two new unitary authorities;

As an existing unitary authority, City of York Council has been clear from the outset that there is no functional, historical or logical reason to merge York with rural or coastal authorities, as proposed in the East/West model.

Full Council voted overwhelmingly in October 2020 to Back York, rejecting the notion of a merger and supporting City of York’s continuation as a council in its own right.

The Government has today confirmed that it too backs York and that York will remain an existing unitary authority with its existing footprint.

Cllr. Keith Aspden, Leader of the Council, said:

The Government’s decision is a huge vote of confidence for York, its council and recognition of the progress we have achieved with our local partners, businesses and communities.

"From the very beginning of this process, residents and organisations from across the city strongly made the case for York, stressing the need for continuity to support our recovery. We’re delighted that so many residents, businesses and partners had their say, and that our city’s voice has been heard. Thank you to everyone who has come together to keep local decision-making at the heart of York’s future.

By retaining our existing footprint, we can continue to look forward, developing our 10 year plan with partners, delivering the largest investment programme for generations across the city and maintaining the city’s 800 year old relationship with the Lord Mayoralty."

This decision will pave the way for further discussion and progress on devolution, recognising York and North Yorkshire’s importance in achieving levelling up for our region and bringing new investment to our city.

Cllr. Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of the Council, said:

“This decision provides the certainty which the council and partners wanted. We can now continue to build a strong recovery and continue making York the best place it can be for all residents.

"We have seen over the course of the pandemic how our city can pull together to support each other and our economy. These strengths stand us in good stead for the future ahead.

We will now work closely with North Yorkshire County Council and Districts to support their transition to become a single unitary, sharing our expertise to strengthen local government across the area.

Council officers will work closely with officers across North Yorkshire authorities to support continuity and efficiency of services during their transition to a new single unitary council".

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