PEOPLE are being urged to have their say on the biggest reorganisation of local government in Craven since the 1970s.

The Government is expected to shortly reveal details of a public consultation into the future of local government in North Yorkshire and York.

Last summer, it made it clear to local councils, including Craven District Council and North Yorkshire County Council, that it wished to see local government reorganised to form one-tier, unitary authorities.

Reorganisation will mean that all seven existing district and the county council will cease to exist and will be replaced by one or two councils to cover North Yorkshire.

The expected consultation comes almost exactly 50 years after the then Government published a White Paper on local government reorganisation that would have seen Skipton joining with Bradford, and Ingleborough and Whernside becoming part of Lancashire.

50 years on and the six district and borough councils of Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby have joined together to propose an ‘East and West’ model.

If adopted, it would see Craven joining with Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton to form one council in the West, with a population of 363,000, and Selby, City of York, Ryedale and Scarborough join together to form a unitary council in the East, with a population of 465,000.

North Yorkshire County Council has submitted a different proposal, which would form one council across the whole of North Yorkshire, with a population of 618,000, leaving York as a separate, small unitary authority with just 211,000 residents.

Although it has not yet been confirmed, the Government has indicated that it is likely to consult on both proposals, says Craven District Council.

Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, speaking on behalf of the district council leaders, said: “We encourage everyone across North Yorkshire and York to make sure they are informed about these proposals, and have their say.

“We believe our East and West model is the best option for residents, businesses and communities. It will provide two balanced unitary authorities, large enough to make savings and operate strategically, but small enough to understand the needs of our people, places and communities.”

He added: “Our East and West model will help drive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and build a better economic future for the whole area.

“Over the last year more than ever, district and borough councils have proven the value of local knowledge."

He added: “We know many of our residents and businesses don’t like the idea of the ‘mega-council’ that North Yorkshire County Council is proposing. They are worried about losing those local connections with their councils.”

North Yorkshire County Council says its proposal for a single new North Yorkshire Council will:

* Unite North Yorkshire for better and integrated services.

*Be a strong voice in the north, speaking out nationally for rural and coastal communities.

* Protect and build on the global North Yorkshire brand.

* Deliver maximum savings and maximum benefits, operating excellent services at scale for businesses and people across the county.

* Keep the county and its services together at a critical time rather than breaking them in two, causing seismic disruption.

* Drive a revolution in localism by empowering communities.

Richard Flinton, chief executive, said: "Never has there been a more important time to ensure that our county remains united and strong to drive economic recovery and opportunity for everyone."

Local authorities are not allowed to use public money to campaign during the consultation, although individual councillors are free to do so.