North Yorkshire Council’s new community partnerships are to be piloted in Leyburn and Middleham.
Members of North Yorkshire Council’s executive have this week backed the proposals which will see a series of pilots established before the programme is rolled out across the county.
The pilot areas would cover Leyburn and Middleham, Easingwold, Ripon, Sherburn-in-Elmet and Thornton-le-Dale and the surrounding rural area.
The council says it will work closely with town and parish councils, public and voluntary sector partners, businesses and communities so that local issues drive decision-making and action via the partnerships.
North Yorkshire Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, said: “We have always said that the council will be centred on ensuring local communities are at the forefront of all that we do.
“The executive’s decision today shows a clear commitment that North Yorkshire Council is being built with local at its heart and that we aim to be the most local, large council in England.
“We are the third largest council in the country and cover the largest geographical area of any local authority nationally.
“The backing for the community partnerships is a major step forward towards bringing together so many different partners and organisations to make sure that people have a stronger voice to tackle those issues that mean the most to them.”
The partnerships were initially due to be called community networks, but members of the executive opted for the new title to ensure that they are distinct from existing organisations.
About 30 partnerships are set to be introduced and centred around market towns and their surrounding areas. However, they will be phased in, with an initial roll-out of five to trial the approach.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for stronger communities, Cllr David Chance, said: “We want to make sure that the model of the community partnerships is right for the areas that they serve.
“The pilots will be so important in achieving this, and we will listen to the view of everyone involved to help develop the partnerships as they are rolled out across the county.
“Nothing will be imposed, as we want to do this with our communities and not simply establish the partnerships without truly involving them.”
The partnerships have been billed as “local agents for economic and social change”, and will provide a forum for work between businesses, public sector agencies and the communities they serve.
Council chiefs hope that the approach will lead to greater collaboration and provide support that helps communities to become more self-reliant and resilient.
The community partnerships will operate independently and will have the opportunity to elect their own chair.
While they would not have devolved budgets, the partnerships will be supported to explore funding opportunities through sources such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Wide-ranging work was undertaken between the former county council and the seven district and borough authorities, which merged to form North Yorkshire Council at the start of April, to create the model for the community partnerships.
It is hoped that they will build on existing relationships and partnerships between the public, private and community and voluntary sectors, including the close working arrangements that were developed during the Covid-19 pandemic.