Richmondshire councillors voice concerns over democracy in devolution deal

Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons.

A council representing one of Britain’s most rural areas has overwhelmingly voted to highlight major concerns over the proposed combined authority for North Yorkshire and York, saying it would be anti-democratic, urban-centric and have unfair representation.

Richmondshire District Council members’ decision represents the first organised opposition voiced over proposals in the devolution deal.

They expressed anger that the proposals would see decisions of a combined authority for the region made by an elected mayor, two North Yorkshire councillors, representing more than 600,000 residents, and two York councillors, representing more than 200,000 residents.

Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons, who is also the leader of the county council’s opposition Independent group, told the meeting the devolution deal would be “the destruction of any democratic representation in North Yorkshire”.

Richmondshire Together group leader Councillor Paul Cullen said with just five members the combined authority would be “rather small to be democratic”.

The meeting heard traditionally government funding rarely to never became available for Richmondshire due to the low population and other elected mayors had improved their areas.

Swaledale councillor Richard Good added: “I really don’t think this is going to be democratic. My concern is that small areas are going to be squeezed again, like we always have been in the past.”

Nevertheless, Conservative group leader Councillor Yvonne Peacock voiced optimism that the situation would change. She added: “I would hope the mayor would prove he would think as much of the smaller, rural areas as he would the main urban ones.”

Since the proposed devolution deal was announced North Yorkshire and City of York councils have issued a plethora of statements in an attempt to generate public support for the deal.

However, as Richmondshire’s elected community representatives agreed to write to county council to emphasise their serious concerns over the future representation of residents, a full meeting of the district authority was told the devolution deal could not be confirmed until after a public consultation.

The meeting heard Cornish devolution plans had been left in limbo by a majority of residents opposing the plans, with many saying too much power would be handed to too few.

Coun Parsons said the £18m extra the area would be given by the government to spend a year “probably wouldn’t even do two miles of the A64 because it is a piddling little amount of money although it sounds rather good based over 30 years – £540m”.

He said the mayor, his staff and office would cost about £1m annually and the only person elected to the combined authority would be the mayor, as the four councillors from York and North Yorkshire would be nominated by their authorities.

Coun Parsons said: “We are already facing loss and damage to local democracy through local government reorganisation, getting rid of about 500 councillors. Eventually all decisions on the economic future of the entire area will be taken by five people, one of whom is elected.”

He said once an elected mayor was installed it would be possible to trigger a referendum to abolish the role.

2 Comments

  1. Richmond, Richmondshire, and North Yorkshire counsellors, aren’t interested in democracy.
    They are self serving narcissistic gangsters.

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