YOU report that local people and organisations are being given just eight weeks to comment on the proposals for local government re-organisation put forward by North Yorkshire County Council and the district councils, including Craven, respectively (Comment now on the shake-up of councils - Craven Herald February 25).

One has to ask: why the rush?

Whatever changes are introduced will have implications for services, jobs and our local democracy for decades to come, yet many of those organisations and individuals who will be affected most are currently at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus and have little time to consider these far reaching proposals.

When Health Secretary Matt Hancock was recently found guilty by the courts of not fulfilling his legal obligations to publish details of contracts awarded for PPE, he pleaded that his priority was the provision of much needed equipment rather than the publication of contract details.

Does the government not recognise that those on the frontline of fighting the virus also have other priorities than responding to a rushed consultation on a limited range of options?

The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto made no mention of plans to change the way our county is run.

It did say, however: “We will publish an English Devolution White Paper setting out our plans next year”.

They did not do so in 2020 and there is no indication that they plan to do so, certainly not before they implement these changes.

Personally, I think there are many advantages to a move to a unitary council responsible for the full range of services, rather than the current mix where for instance Craven collect the bins, but North Yorkshire run the recycling centres.

But the government has no mandate for the changes now proposed. Why do they not do what they promised and publish, for consultation, considered proposals for genuine devolution of powers away from Westminster and to the people in the regions?

Mike Smith