District Councils’ Network response to decision on local government reform proposals in North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Somerset
Cllr John Fuller OBE, Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said:
These decisions on North Yorkshire and Somerset are bitterly disappointing. In the week that the Government called time on contested and divisive council reorganisations, these inexplicable decisions levels-down democracy by taking the power to shape local places further away from residents and business.
As the pandemic has forced us to stay at home we have come to appreciate what our local places can deliver. Unfortunately rather than empower local democracy, today’s decisions are for centralisation, and for diluting local government’s capacity to represent, deliver and lead their communities.
Lumping proudly distinctive places such as Skipton, Scarborough and Selby into the same local authority on a canvass that covers all but 7 miles of the whole width of the country is wholly inconsistent with the size, extent and history of its neighbours.
The Government has decided not to back the single county unitary proposal for Cumbria, highlighting further the centralisation of services across North Yorkshire, an area two thirds the size of Northern Ireland. The decisions covering largely rural areas will make it impossible for anyone but the rich or retired motorist to serve and shape their council area.
Britain is one of the most centralised countries in the world and already has some of the largest councils in the western world. All the independent international evidence is unequivocal, much larger councils are not inherently better or more efficient but they are less local and less responsive to communities.
The DCN will continue to work with all Districts involved in the ongoing process, backing their tremendous leadership as they continue to deliver for communities during this health and economic crisis.
Notes to editors
Full details of the Government’s statement available here: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-07-21/hcws234