North Yorkshire faces big change in April February 17, 2023

North Yorkshire will be experiencing a big change in 2023 as its seven huge district councils, formed by amalgamation of authorities in 1974, are abolished in April.

Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby District Councils will disappear and the North Yorkshire County Council will be reformed as a "unitary authority" — one which will be massively bigger than any other such authority in the country.

North Yorkshire is the largest county in England, covering 3,109 square miles and including around 500 towns and villages and one small city.

North Yorkshire coastlineNorth Yorkshire mountainsIt 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.

To put it further into a context of scale, it is about 3½ times bigger than Yorkshire's present largest unitary authority, East Riding of Yorkshire.

The area is also considerably larger than the pre-1974 North Riding of Yorkshire as North Yorkshire incorporated large parts of the West Riding and some of the East Riding, although some northern fringes were lost to what are now Durham County, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland unitary authorities.

A wide range of district council services will be added to County Council spending priorities which already include road maintenanceThe new North Yorkshire unitary authority is the same area as the existing North Yorkshire County Council, which already has responsibility for roads, education and libraries. District services such as parks, museums, leisure facilities, bins and recycling, car parks, housing and property, planning, licensing and council tax collection will move from local district to county level.

A single budget will now be spread across the whole of North Yorkshire.

There are also plans to standardise Council Tax rates. That means those living in districts which have traditionally had enhanced facilities and higher spending now having a lower Council Tax, while those living within some of the lower spending districts will pay more Council Tax. The increase may be offset by expected savings, but the initial indication is that a local office will be maintained in each district while there there will also be costs involved in amagalmating district functions into the county authority.

The Town Hall in Scarborough, which will not have a local council from AprilUnder the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, Harrogate Borough Council manages 200 acres of grassland around the town known as The Stray. However, Harrogate will no longer have a council from AprilWhile unitary authorities are often described as single-tier government, North Yorkshire has and will continue to have near-total coverage of 'third-tier' civil parish councils, many of these covering a very small area compared with those to be found in only some parts of metropolitan areas of Yorkshire.

The civil parish councils include town councils in most towns. In Ripon it's Ripon City Council. Sometimes there is a council or meeting covering just a tiny village or hamlet. There are literally hundreds of these across North Yorkshire with the possibility of them taking more responsibility for a very limited range of local functions, such as park maintenance, public toilets, car parks, leisure and art centres. These are paid for through an additional parish precept raised on Council Tax bills.

There are two very notable gaps in the parish or town council coverage in North Yorkshire — Harrogate and Scarborough. It will leave their considerable local visitor attractions sharing the attention of the wider county control from April.

There are now plans to establish new town councils in both Harrogate and Scarborough, but elections will not take place until 2024.

Elections for the new North Yorkshire council have already taken place. The councillors elected to the North Yorkshire Council in 2022 will continue as councillors of the new unitary authority with its expanded range of services from April.

There are plans however to introduce an extra election. Under the Government's "devolution deal" funding agenda it wants an elected mayor. The mayor would be the figurehead of a combined authority covering not just all of the new North Yorkshire unitary authority but also the City of York, which continues as a separate unitary authority. The role is also expected to incorporate the responsibility of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. Such an election could be held in 2024.

Here are the towns and villages of  North Yorkshire listed in our Gazetteer.

Find out more at the  North Yorkshire County Council website.


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