New era begins in North Yorkshire April 1, 2023

Biggest towns will have remote control

Many living in North Yorkshire will remember the day when the West Riding, North Riding or the East Riding was their county authority, but 49 years on there has been another major change to local government as Britain's biggest unitary authority is formed.

Abolished are the seven huge district councils — Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby — which were formed in 1974 by the amalgamation of municipal boroughs, urban and rural districts and placed within a new county-wide authority of North Yorkshire County Council.

As the district authorities disappear, the county authority, North Yorkshire County Council, has been reformed as a "unitary authority" — one that is massively bigger than any other such authority in the country, but taking on the local responsibilities as well as those county-wide.

It will leave North Yorkshire's two largest towns, Harrogate and Scarborough, which do not even have a Town Council, among those being run by remote control.

County Hall, NorthallertonScarboroughHarrogateAs well as North Yorkshire's existing county responsibilities, which have included roads, schools, libraries and transport planning, the North Yorkshire Council unitary authority is taking on district council responsibilities like waste collection, street cleaning, parks and car parks, housing and markets across the vast area.

North Yorkshire is about three-and-a-half times bigger than Yorkshire's previous largest unitary authority, East Riding of Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire is the largest county in England, covering around 3,085 square miles and including around 500 towns and villages and one small city.

Coastal protection moves from Scarborough district council to being a North Yorkshire responsibilityThe county stretches across around 92 miles west to east and around 67 miles from its northernmost tip to its southernmost point. The area includes two National Parks, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Heritage Coast.

The fastest road journey from North Yorkshire's westernmost village, Low Bentham, to its easternmost village, Speeton, is 112 miles and non-stop would take 2 hours 42 minutes. Low Bentham is fortunate to be one of the few places in North Yorkshire within 30 minutes walk of a railway station and by public transport the journey could be achieved in as little as 5 hours 15 minutes.

Changes will include the establishment of 30 community networks to help set local priorities at North Yorkshire Council as it makes budget savings. A total of 731 Parish and Town Councils across North Yorkshire are also likely to be making a greater contribution to local services. Harrogate and Scarborough are the only towns where these have yet to be established.

Other changes that more than 0.6 million residents will notice will be access to all council services across North Yorkshire through one telephone number, however the new council says there will be a main office in each of the former districts, supported by around 30 new additional local access points across the county.

There was public consultation on the unitary authority plans back in 2021 which produced just short of 4,300 responses, that including public bodies and voluntary organisations as well as from the 600,000-plus general population. The status quo was not an option and the unitary North Yorkshire plan was favoured over one that would have scrapped the county of North Yorkshire and divided it into a western area combining Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton and an eastern area including Scarborough, Selby and Ryedale districts while controversially also including York, which is already a unitary authority and has a proud and long history of having its own city council.

City of York continues to be a separate unitary authority under the implemented plan. North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service continue to also include the City of York unitary authority area.

Read more about the changes on this North Yorkshire district abolition page.
Find our Gazetteer list of places covered by the  North Yorkshire unitary authority.

The council website can be found at  North Yorkshire Council although it advises that over the weekend, there may be times when some of its systems are not available as it works to bring them together.

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