A DISTRICT councillor has written to us in despair over the unification of councils within the North Yorkshire region.

LAST week, North Yorkshire County Council organised a briefing for district councillors on the proposals for Local Government Reorganisation in the county. Their report was disappointing, to say the least.

Work began on this proposal when the decision was announced by the Government (with little local consultation) in July 2021, despite the fact that MPs have yet to pass the relevant legislation.

The proposals would create the least democratic local authority in Europe, with each of the 90 councillors representing around 7,000 people. Compare this to Barking & Dagenham council, which is also undergoing reorganisation, with each councillor there representing 3,200 people.

In addition to that, Barking also sends representatives to the London Assembly, a body with much more devolved powers that those being offered to North Yorkshire.

And thereby hangs the rub. Devolution was the supposed reason for the North Yorkshire reorganisation. But to date no devolved powers have been offered to North Yorkshire.

With 300 staff, as well as consultants, currently working on the reorganisation, it is already costing North Yorkshire over £10m a year, on top of the existing local government costs.

Add to that staff leaving due to the uncertainty and being temporarily replaced with agency staff at a much higher cost.

As a result, local services have been badly disadvantaged, especially planning, where the pre-application advice service has been suspended.

Despite being challenged directly, the organisers of the briefing were unable to identify any short term economies of scale.

Since all of the staff of the existing authorities will be transferred to the new authority and local offices retained, it is difficult to see where any savings will be made without large scale redundancies.

Clearly, the sole justification for this costly local government reorganisation is to consolidate power into the hands of the Conservative Party. Link that to the abandonment of the Alternate Vote system for choosing the proposed new mayor (we will instead go back to the discredited first past the post system, which gives absolute power to the largest minority) and you can see the cynical corruption of the modern day Conservative Party.

Cllr Leslie Rowe (Ind), Brompton on Swale & Catterick ward on Richmondshire District Council.

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