‘Neither of the Government’s two options for Unitary Councils in North Yorkshire is acceptable’ says Thirsk and Malton Labour Party. The Government is now asking the people of North Yorkshire to say which of these options they would like. ‘This is a rigged choice’ says David Yellen, Chair of Thirsk and Malton Labour Party. ‘Both options are fundamentally flawed. People should not allow themselves to be manipulated into accepting a new structure which from day one would be manifestly dysfunctional’.

It is also premature. The Government is due to publish a White Paper on English Devolution the purpose of which is to reshape the relationship between central government and local councils. It makes no objective sense to rush through a radical restructure of local government in North Yorkshire before the White Paper is even published.

Thirsk and Malton Labour Party is urging the public to respond to the Government consultation by rejecting both the East/West split of North Yorkshire, which lumps Selby, York and Scarborough together, and the North Yorkshire takes over everything option. ‘While there is acceptance that there is a need for change the process of developing options has been deeply flawed. Instead of starting by identifying the problems that need addressing through talking to the public the main driver has been the government’s obsession with establishing elected mayors. The only beneficiaries of the process have been the management consultancies paid to produce glossy but biased reports. If either of these options goes ahead the public will be saddled with a costly and disruptive reorganisation, jobs will be put at risk and services will get no better’.

‘We are asking Robert Jenrick to halt the process, not force through a change which has no clear benefit and no consensus, wait until the English Devolution proposals have been published and assimilated and then start the process again’.

The services which local authorities provide are vital to a healthy society; education, care for young and old, transport, housing the environment.  And yet year after year Tory governments have cut their funding, reduced their powers and strongarmed them to privatise and out-source. No tinkering with boundaries and mayors will address these accumulated problems. English Devolution is supposed to address the issues of local authorities powers and funding. Until this is done there is no settled basis for discussing the size, boundaries and functions of new unitary authorities, in North Yorkshire or anywhere else.

Thirsk and Malton Labour Party came to this conclusion at a general meeting of members. The cases for the government options were presented by independent advocates, Cllr Steve Siddons the leader of Scarborough Council and Clive Heaton QC (Retired). Following questioning of the advocates and full discussion the meeting voted by an overwhelming majority to reject both options.

David Yellen, Chair of Thirsk and Malton Constituency Labour Party

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