THE Government has made the right decision in making the whole of North Yorkshire a unitary authority.

The alternative, of splitting the county down the middle and having an east and a west authority, didn’t have much geographical merit and would have created two unnatural entities.

It also wouldn’t really have solved the biggest problem, of “local” government becoming too remote from ordinary people.

There will be great turmoil as the new county authority takes on the responsibilities of the seven district councils, but as it grows bigger, it cannot allow itself to lose contact with the people that it serves.

The same fears were expressed when Durham went through a similar process a decade ago, but it created area action partnerships which do appear to have partly bridged the divide. However, part of the reason for Labour’s defeat in Durham was that voters felt it had become unresponsive and was too far away from them.

Yet, after nearly two decades of arguments, North Yorkshire needs a sense of direction and of reinvigoration. It needs a strong voice to shout up for it, especially with the Tees Valley on one side and the powerhouse of Leeds on the other threatening to drown it out.

Similarly, following the Government changing the specifications for elected mayors, it is interesting that Durham is now considering this course, as advocated here last week. The county also needs a strong voice – powerful, dynamic and accountable leaders are now the order of the day.