Richmond MP William
Hague joined colleagues in
opposing super council plans
BOSSES at North Yorkshire County Council have gone on the offensive and hit out at the county's MPs over their criticism yesterday (see news) of its proposals for creating one single super council to replace the existing district councils.
The deputy leader of the council, Chris Metcalfe, said the MPs' comments were inconsistent and illogical. "For reasons which I find it difficult to comprehend, the MPs have chosen to illustrate their case by comparing North Yorkshire with the almost entirely urban metropolitan area based on London," he said.
"Somehow, in an analogy which defies logic, they seem to think that transposing a county with a population of 582,000, served by 144 elected members, onto a region with a population of 12 million supports their view that North Yorkshire would have a less democratic structure.
"In fact, a new unitary authority for North Yorkshire would have an average of 4,042 people for each elected member.
"This compares with nearly 5,000 in the largely rural East Riding of Yorkshire, around 7,000 in Leeds, 5,500 in Bradford, 5,000 in Wakefield, and more than 6,000 in Sheffield.
"As these figures show, our proposals for a new, single-tier authority would in fact give North Yorkshire a far greater degree of accountability than almost every other local authority in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
"It must also be remembered that North Yorkshire is a largely rural area, and depends to a large extent on geographical size to encompass a sufficient population to underpin the provision of vital services."
Councillor Metcalfe rejected the MPs' claim that one council would not be able to cater for the county's diverse local needs.
How is any of this a failure to address local needs?
Chris Metcalfe - NYCC
"What do they think we do now? We provide a first-class education service - one of the best in the UK incidentally - which is tailored to the needs of each individual community, whether it be in an urban centre like Harrogate or in a remote village in the Yorkshire Dales.
"We provide excellent social care which caters for the needs of all citizens, whether they live in a town like Selby or a village like Bainbridge.
"We maintain thousands of kilometres of highways and byways, keeping the citizens of North Yorkshire on the move day and night, winter and summer.
"How is any of this a failure to address local needs?"
- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly has previously stated that she expects to make only a small number - eight - of new unitary councils. Those accepted in the summer will be up and running in 2009 under her current plans.
If the proposal is approved, the existing county council, together with the district councils of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, and Selby, will be replaced in 2009 by one new, unitary body which will take over the responsibility of delivering all local government services across the county.