Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce News

Letter from Richard Cooper HBC - Devolution

19 Aug 2020 by Dan Harper


As the leader of Harrogate Borough Council, I am writing to let you know about some important changes in local government and, most importantly, to invite you to help us get those changes right for our local economy.

Currently some services in our district are provided by us, while others are provided by North Yorkshire County Council. The government wishes to abolish this two-tier system and reorganise local government in York and North Yorkshire.

If we do this, it could unlock the door to a devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire delivered by a new directly-elected mayor. This would be worth at least £2.28 billion of investment in our local economy over the next 30 years. If we don’t reorganise, that investment will be lost.

The opportunity is there, but we need to get the size, geography and identity of the new councils right for local people and local businesses.

North Yorkshire County Council wants to merge all North Yorkshire councils into one mega-sized council covering a huge geography, 615,000 residents and thousands of businesses. York would remain a separate (and very much smaller) neighbour, isolated from the wider county.

I am opposed to creating one large unitary authority covering all 8,000 square kilometres of North Yorkshire, because I think it would be bad for business, and bad for our economy.

·       It would create a single massive bureaucracy, remote from local businesses and the economy

·       It would reduce the level of direct contact and influence that employers could hope to have on decisions affecting their future

·       It would create a huge imbalance between North Yorkshire and York that risks undermining the new directly-elected mayor with distractions and division

We are passionate about business in the Harrogate district. The council has been at the heart of the coronavirus response, working to support business recovery and releasing c£50 millions in business grant aid. We were only able to do this quickly and at scale because of our knowledge of our local economy, our close links with local businesses, and our long experience of delivering grass-roots services. It is essential that we do not lose these valuable qualities in the coming local government reorganisation, as I hope you agree.

We have a very short window – a matter of weeks – to put an alternative proposal to government based on councils that are closer and more responsive to business. You can help us to shape that bid.

I would be extremely grateful if you could read the leaflet which outlines how you can get involved and share your views. Please email CEO@Harrogate Chamber for a copy of the leaflet

Please also feel free to email me directly: richard.cooper@harrogate.gov.uk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Richard Cooper

Leader of Harrogate Borough Council