Elections to the county and district councils in North Yorkshire that were due to take place in May are being postponed for a year.It's because the government is asking for people's views on two different proposals on moving to a single-tier council system.North Yorkshire currently has a county council, responsible for services including adults' and children's social care and maintaining roads, and seven district or borough councils responsible for services like rubbish collection and planning.The government has said that the two-tier system should be scrapped, to pave the way for more devolved powers and the potential for a directly-elected mayor.The two proposals that have been put forward are:
A single unitary council for the whole of North Yorkshire, with no changes to the existing City of York Council
The plan for a single council was submitted by North Yorkshire County Council.
Two unitary councils - one in the west made up of the current districts of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire, and one in the east made up of the current districts of Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and the City of York
The plan for east/west councils was submitted by six of the seven district and borough councils in North Yorkshire, with Hambleton not involved.
The consultation will run until 19 April here. The government is then due to decide which proposal, if either, to push ahead with. A new unitary council is expected to be fully operational from April 2023.
Similar processes are happening in Cumbria and Somerset.
I have always been clear that any restructuring of local government must be locally-led and will not involve top-down solutions from government. Now that councils in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Somerset have submitted their proposals, I am pleased residents, businesses and service providers will have the opportunity to have their say on what will work best for their area.
Where there is local support, changing the structure of local government can offer better value for money and improved services for residents.
The government says that the district and county council elections in North Yorkshire have been postponed until May 2022 to avoid the possibility of residents being asked to vote for councils while also being asked to express their views on possibly abolishing the councils, and also to avoid councillors potentially being elected to serve short terms.The elections for town and parish councils, and North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner are due to go ahead this May.