Why we should keep City of York Council

Tom Franklin, Chair of York Green Party spoke at the Council meeting of the City of York to explain why we should retain the Council. You can read what he said here:

Lord Mayor, members, thank you for allowing me to address you.

I am sure that we all agree that local government is a vital part of how the UK functions.  For a long time it has been hamstrung by funding cuts and by a continual loss of the powers that it once had.  Once water, electricity, education and many other matters were fully controlled by local government. Even with the loss of responsibility and cuts local government is hugely important in part because the council is close to the people who live in the area and understand the local people’s needs and specific needs of the area.

The government is consulting on reforming local government in North Yorkshire and York, and there are currently two options. One of these options would abolish the City of York, with its proud 800 year history as a City and see it put in a local authority comprising Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and York. There are three serious problems with this:

Firstly, it will be hugely disruptive and expensive (estimates are around £10million) at a time we are all trying to deal with Covid and ensure that the people of York come out the other side as positively as possible. Re-organisation will be a huge distraction for many officers as they work out all the changes required.

Secondly, the new area, whatever it might be called (East North Yorkshire perhaps), will move the Council away from York and the majority of the people will live in coastal or rural areas with very different problems and issues than York. The people of York will therefore be in a minority and have less influence on how local services are delivered.

Thirdly, the Council Tax in the other areas (County Council plus District Council) is much higher than York, so people in York will see significantly higher tax with no improvement in services.

No real advantages have been specified for this proposal.  It is hugely disruptive in both York and North Yorkshire where services run by North Yorkshire County Council will have to be split up between the new authorities and in our area simultaneously merged with those of York.

The alternative, which retains York City Council and folds the district councils into the County Council (which already provides 80% or the services in North Yorkshire) would be the least disruptive, would keep services local in York and would preserve the City of York, which after all is important to it as a tourist destination.

I urge you all to support the proposal to keep the City of York.  Keep services local, keep a local voice, keep costs down and keep our history.

Thank you

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