A war of words has erupted with counter claims of “arrogance” as local authorities approved submitting two contrasting proposals to government calling for the biggest shake-up of how key public services are run since 1974.
In a final round of debates over whether to submit a blueprint to government calling for east and west authorities to govern North Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Selby and Ryedale district councils joined Craven, Scarborough, Harrogate approving the proposal, while Hambleton decided to call to retain the status quo.
The decisions followed North Yorkshire and City of York councils resolving to submit proposals to keep their own boundaries.
The Richmondshire meeting heard while the proposals featured claims of huge savings that could be made from cutting duplication of jobs across councils, North Yorkshire residents would not see council tax reductions as central government would spirit away the savings.
Councillor William Heslop said a smaller unitary council would be more accessible, more responsive and be more caring.
Cllr Heslop said: “The real equation is between democracy and efficiency and they are not natural bedfellows.”
However, the meeting was told the East-West split plan had been fatally undermined by overwhelming opposition to it from York and Hambleton council wanting to maintain the two-tier council system.
Councillor Karin Sedgwick said: “It’s a little bit like baking a cake when you haven’t got the right ingredients. In general you don’t go ahead and do it.”
Councillor Angus Thompson likened the East-West proposal to an arranged marriage featuring a reluctant party.
He said numerous York councillors had contacted him, with one claiming the district council leaders, including Richmondshire’s leader Councillor Angie Dale, had shown “a total lack of respect and sheer arrogance” in including the city in their plans.
Cllr Dale responded claiming “at no point has the county council engaged with any of the district leaders”.
She told the meeting “the leaders of North Yorkshire County Council took it upon themselves to start the wheels and the processes with local government reorganisation without the support of the other eight leaders”.
Cllr Dale added the reorganisation had been initiated by the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Councillor Carl Les.
She said: “He totally disregarded and did not speak to anybody else. When you talk about arrogance, that’s where your arrogance is.”
After the meeting, Cllr Les said it had been the government who had first called for reorganisation at a meeting all the district council leaders attended on July 7.
He said it wasn’t until last month that he wrote to the Secretary of State telling him the county council “accept your requirement to rationalise the structures of local government” to achieve a devolution deal.
He said he had had numerous conversations with some district councils and produced emails sent to all district council leaders repeatedly offering to make presentations about the county’s proposal, which three of them had accepted.
He said Cllr Dale had not responded to any of his offers.