Districts to go as Britain's biggest county North Yorkshire is set to become one huge
unitary authority July 22, 2021
While the Government talks of "strengthening local leadership", "transforming the way services are delivered" and "offering better value for money", it does mean that a single authority pot of money is being stretched further in North Yorkshire than anywhere else in the country.
North Yorkshire is the largest county in England, covering 3,341 square miles, and including around 500 towns and villages and one small city. It stretches across around 92 miles west to east and around 67 miles from its northernmost tip to its southernmost point. To drive from Skipton in the West to Scarborough in the east takes, at best, around 2 hours and 15 minutes. The area includes two National Parks, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Heritage Coast.
The move will mean services such as parks, museums, leisure facilities, bins and recycling, car parks, housing and property, planning, licensing and council tax collection going from local district to county level and, for example, a park in Harrogate would be competing for budget and maintenance with a park in Scarborough.
The rejected proposal would have combined North Yorkshire districts of
However, the Government's choice for North Yorkshire contrasts greatly with its decision-making for Cumbria, which is only around three-quarters the area of North Yorkshire, but will be divided into two unitary authorities. The
Parliamentary approval still has to be sought following the ministerial announcement, but the Government timetable is for elections for the new authorities next May.
While unitary authorities are often described as single-tier government, North Yorkshire continues to also have its third-tier profusion of small-area civil parish councils in most areas. These also include town councils in most towns and Ripon City Council.