Richmondshire councillors propose new masterplan to put residents at the heart of decisions

Richmondshire District Council is set to consider a fresh masterplan which senior councillors say will put its 53,000 residents at the heart of the decisions it makes across the 509sq mile area.

The business plan is the first major indication of the ambitions and priorities of the Independent, Liberal Democrat and Green coalition since it formed an administration in May, taking over from the Conservative-led administration.

A special meeting of the authority’s corporate board will next week consider a draft plan that has been drawn up in consultation with the council’s leader and deputy leader, councillors Angie Dale and Helen Grant.

It is understood uncertainty surrounding government policies following next month’s General Election has made issuing targets and specific pledges difficult.

However, the draft proposals feature a number of significant changes to the 2015 business plan, which highlighted in its foreword how the council had faced unprecedented reductions in funding during austerity and further cuts in operating costs were planned with no loss of current services.

The draft proposals’ foreword makes no mention of funding issues. Instead it states: “At the core of this plan is our customers and communities and the provision of a focus towards enabling growth to support our sub-regional and regional economies. We will all work together to deliver the actions needed to achieve the council’s ambitions and the plan will be reviewed and updated annually to reflect changing circumstances and issues.”

Referring to climate change, the previous plan stated the authority would “explore the feasibility of installing income generating energy efficient and renewable technologies on its buildings and 63 energy efficient street lights.

In a clear signal of the new administration’s priorities, the draft proposals’ foreword also states how the council declared a climate and ecological emergency in July.

It states: “We want to make the council’s operations zero carbon by 2030, encourage initiatives that help Richmondshire district to become net zero carbon; improve biodiversity while protecting our working cultural landscapes and economies.”

Among the new policies set to be considered is the establishment of a panel of residents to ensure regular engagement with the public ahead of the introduction of policies.