THE organisation of our local government in North Yorkshire, which has remained unchanged for the past 47 years, is now being considered, with two conflicting proposals under consideration by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

There is an alternative way of deciding, namely by a Citizens Assembly. In the past few years such assemblies have worked well in a number of countries in helping to decide matters of vital public importance.

Our local politicians have clearly demonstrated that they are unable to decide. There are many members of the current county council who wear ‘two hats’, sitting on the district or borough councils at the same time.

How strange it must be for them to support the county council proposition of a single unitary council when they go to Northallerton and then have to change tack and support the idea of two separate unitary authorities when they return to their local council seats in Skipton, Harrogate and elsewhere around the county.

Citizens assemblies are not difficult to arrange and they do not take up very much time. There would be a cost of course, but that would be small compared with the benefit of bringing the choice away from our masters in Westminster, County Hall and local council chambers across North Yorkshire.

Councillor Andy Brown asserts (Craven Herald letters, February 25) that any local government reorganisation will create ‘chaos’, but many of us feel that local government in North Yorkshire is already chaotic, not to say undemocratic.

The present situation offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a lasting say on how we are governed. Provided the government is willing to listen and is serious in its promises to devolve real power and responsibility to the people of North Yorkshire, that cannot be a bad thing.

Andrew Murday

(Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Skipton and Ripon)