HUNDREDS of district councillors are being urged to back plans to split the governance of North Yorkshire and York, and some key services, into two.

From November 3, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Scarborough, Selby, Harrogate, Ryedale and Craven district and borough councils will hold extraordinary meetings to consider a proposal to create East and West unitary authorities across the area.

Leaders of the district and borough authorities have claimed a study they commissioned from auditors KPMG provides “compelling evidence that the creation of two unitary authorities of balanced size would provide the strongest local leadership, the most effective services and the fairest democratic representation, as well as the most savings for local taxpayers”.

Reports being presented to district councils state the East-West model would ensure both authorities have the scale and capacity to invest in improved service delivery and to achieve financial efficiencies.

The western council featuring Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton would have a population of 363,297 and its eastern neighbour, including York, Selby Ryedale and Scarborough a population of 465,375.

The report states the East-West model also offers the opportunity to provide more localised services and improve efficiencies, which both City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council have disputed. Those councils believe they should maintain their current boundaries as splitting up successful services and linking services with other authorities would cause significant disruption.

Supporters of the county and city council’s proposal have also questioned whether an authority serving both Whitby and Selby would prove less remote than one serving the whole of North Yorkshire and if it would be possible for the East and West councils to have any coherent identity.

However, Councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, speaking on behalf of the districts, said the council and city council’s proposal would create “a massive imbalance”.

He said: “The KPMG study clearly shows that the East and West model will provide strong local leadership, the most effective services, the fairest democratic representation, the most financial savings. Our model, with two equal partners, also provides the strongest approach to unlocking devolution.”