PLANS have been approved for the district council to join with other districts and borough councils in North Yorkshire in the biggest shake up of local government since 1974.

Craven District Council’s Policy Committee nodded through the proposals to examine the best way of reorganising the system. A report will now go before full council to be rubber-stamped.

The Government has made it clear to local councils in North Yorkshire and York that they must establish one or more unitary councils in order to secure a devolution deal for the region.

These unitary councils would be formed from the district and borough council areas of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, and also including the current unitary authority of York.

Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, said: “My personal view is that any local authority reform must maintain close links to communities and give them a voice.

“Our residents and businesses have a strong local identity and are passionate about where they live and work. We share that passion. The district and borough council leaders are working on a proposal for local government reform which will aim to build on our strengths - providing the best local services, knowledge and democracy - and will enhance this with strategic collaboration and economy of scale, providing unrivalled value for money.

“I believe that strong public service leadership requires a new and fresh collaborative approach. I want to seize this opportunity to take a new, fresh look at local government structures in North Yorkshire.

“We don’t want to look back to past, failed models. The world has changed and a new approach is needed. Together we are looking at a range of options to find the best solution for our residents and businesses, to help them navigate forwards.

“I believe that a unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire would be too large and unsustainable to support our distinct and diverse communities and their needs.”

District and borough council leaders are now working together on a business case which will aim to maintain close links to communities and ensure residents and businesses still have a voice.

Residents, businesses, councillors, parish councils and other local organisations will be consulted.

The Government will be writing to leaders shortly to outline the timetable but has indicated that submissions will be sought in September 2020, with a new authority or authorities coming into being in May 2022.