THE leader of Hambleton District Council has described fears that 3,000 public sector jobs in Northallerton could be at risk if a proposal to create two unitary authorities is agreed, as “misleading and irresponsible”.

The Northern Echo reported on Monday that some prominent Conservative members of Tory-led Hambleton District Council, who are also North Yorkshire County councillors, said they feared “an economic catastrophe” in Northallerton unless at least one local authority centre of administration remains there. They issued an appeal to the district council, which is among a group of seven district councils pushing for a two unitary authority solution for the county, to stand by their commitment to stand up for local residents and businesses alike when they make a decision to support any proposal. They highlighted that there are about 3,000 office-based posts supporting county and district services in Northallerton and Hambleton as a whole, and claimed that splitting the county in two would inevitably move half the structure, about 1,500 jobs, from Hambleton to the new authority.

In response, Cllr Mark Robson, leader of Hambleton District Council, said: “This claim is misleading and frankly irresponsible. People are already nervous about job and financial security post-Covid, and more propaganda and shameless scaremongering from the county council, for what appears to be their own gain, simply adds to people’s woes and worries. It is in very bad taste indeed and it both saddens and disappoints me that it’s come to this.

“Residents and businesses across Hambleton deserve honesty and fairness whilst we work out what local government in North Yorkshire and York will look like in the future. Only last week myself and the other districts and borough council leaders released a statement to the media calling on the county council to play fair with the public as it campaigns to create its mega council delivering all services across 8,000 square kilometres. It’s disappointing that only days later we see perhaps the lowest blow yet, putting fear into people about their livelihood, all aimed at scaring the residents of Hambleton and council employees into backing their mega council campaign. In contrast, as leader of Hambleton, I’m listening to residents and thinking carefully, because I want to get change right.”