The leader of North Yorkshire County Council has said “common sense has prevailed” after all seven borough and district councils agreed in principle to fund next year’s parish council elections.
North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les was speaking after it emerged Richmondshire District Council had joined the six other second tier authorities in the county in taking on the extraordinary and unexpected cost of parish council elections next year.
It had previously been agreed parish councils with contested seats should hold their elections a year early next May to bring their polls into line with ones for North Yorkshire’s new unitary authority and save taxpayers money.
However, parish councils had been told some by some district authorities they would face charges for the election despite having little time to raise funding.
Some parishes had stated due to their lack of resources they faced having to double their tax demand from residents to cover the election, which it was claimed had been “foisted” on them by the county council.
Richmondshire District Council, which has previously charged Richmond Town Council £6,000 for the election cycle, was the final authority to agree to bankroll the parish elections next year.
Despite the potential charges being levied by district and borough councils, the county council’s leader Coun Les had faced pressure to ensure parishes did not go into the red.
After learning of Richmondshire’s decision the Catterick Bridge member said he was pleased parish councils would not rapidly have to find money for elections next year.
He said: “It will be for the new unitary authority to decide whether they charge parish councils in future, once it becomes into being, but I would hope this sets a good precedent.”
County council opposition leader Councillor Stuart Parsons said it had been disappointing that a campaign had been necessary to ensure parishes were not burdened with the costs.
He said: “It is good that Richmondshire has changed its position, particularly as the election was caused by the unitary authority decision. It is only fair the districts cover the cost.
“It would have cost Richmond Town Council £10,000 and taking that out of a Covid-impacted budget would have made it difficult for that council to do everything that it intended to do.”