Local government reorganisation a “nightmare”, Dales parish council tells Rishi Sunak

The Edwardian rock garden at Aysgarth. Photo: Pip Pointon.

Proposals to change the governance of national parks, local government in North Yorkshire and the overhaul of the planning system will result in far less local democracy and representation, according to Aysgarth and District Parish Council.

The parish council has told Rishi Sunak MP: “The pressure from the government to create a large unitary council is for us a nightmare no matter how the negotiations are resolved.”

It stated that the creation of a single unitary council serving the whole of North Yorkshire and the abolition of district councils would mean that deeply rural areas would have far less representation on the local authority making so many decisions that affected peoples’ lives.

It pointed out: “At present, it is our district councillors who attend parish council meetings, listen to us and report our concerns. We will lose that if one large unitary council is created.

“In addition, North Yorkshire County Council has suggested that   town and parish councils should take over some of the responsibilities of district councils. This just isn’t possible for rural parish councils like ours. We don’t have the ability to take on such responsibilities.”

It noted that if the proposals in Julian Glover’s Landscape Review were accepted by the government all the members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and other National Parks in England  would be appointed by a small board of government-selected people on a newly created quango, the National Landscapes Service.

The parish council stated: “This would be a centralisation of power effectively disenfranchising those who live in National Parks.”

“Devolution is supposed to be the transfer of power from national to local government. We do not believe that the proposed National Landscapes Service nor the government’s overhaul of the planning system will achieve that – but rather the opposite.”

Rock garden. – The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, reported at the virtual meeting in October that four people so far had volunteered to help him maintain the Edwardian garden. He  had mowed the grass and collected  leaves.

The clerk had informed the water and electricity suppliers about the change of ownership.  She said it had taken time to convince the water supplier that the parish council had assumed  ownership of an “Edwardian pile of rocks”.

Thoralby. – Councillors reported that, despite recent repairs, a large hole had developed on the road past Town Head Farm leaving the drain 18 inches off the ground.  “This is dangerous” said Cllr Sandra Wilman.

In addition, North Yorkshire Highways has been informed that there are two potholes which are collapsing into the main storm drain.  Councillors said a three-foot hole needs to be cut out and a reinforcement support installed rather than just filling it with tarmac.

A highway officer had stated that it was probable that the flooding at Low Green Lane was caused by tree roots growing into a culvert underneath a private property.  It is hoped that a camera survey will be carried out.

Aysgarth. –  At the September meeting Cllr David Wood spoke about the traffic congestion during the pandemic caused by visitors leaving their cars on both sides of the A684 from around Aysgarth Falls Hotel to the Doctors’ Surgery and beyond, often blocking the road and pavements.

The parish council thought that visitor numbers would likely reduce in the autumn and winter months and that the situation should be monitored next year.

Councillors reported on where overgrowth was impacting upon footpaths and that a single white line was needed to be painted on the corner of the A684 where it enters the west end of the village. A lorry had recently knocked the gate posts of the house on that corner. A dry stone wall on an access road at the west end of the village has been damaged.

It was agreed that Area 1 of North Yorkshire Highways should be thanked for making such an excellent job of painting Wath Bridge.

Yore Mill. –  The parish council confirmed in September that it did not own the bottom steps at Yore Mill , nor did it know who did own them. It was, therefore, agreed that the clerk should inform the National Park that the parish council had no objections to the new owner of Yore Mill repairing the steps at his own cost, providing the work was fit for purpose standard.

The next meeting will be at 7.30pm on Thursday 26 November 2020. Details about how this will be held will be announced on the parish council website at least a week before the meeting.