No doubt people will have seen the news surrounding the final meetings of Harrogate Borough Council.  After 49 years of the Council being the go-to place for most people in the area for a range of local services, we are now in the new world of a Unitary Authority with a single local Councillor representing residents across two former political wards.  At this point I’d like to acknowledge all the work that HBC Councillors of all colours have undertaken over many years to keep local democracy alive.

On to the new, but what has changed?

It was the intent of the new North Yorkshire Council to ensure that the transition on the 1st April was a seamless and ‘unnoticed’ by those in receipt of services as possible.   With one or two niggles it appears that that has been achieved, but please do let me know if you are still experiencing any challenges in accessing information or services.

However, things are a bit different now in some key areas:

·         The Area Constituency Committee, made of North Yorkshire Councillors covering the Harrogate & Knaresborough Constituency boundary, now meets regularly as a sub-committee of the Council.  It acts as a ‘critical friend’ to the Council enabling the voice and concerns of the public to be heard in order to drive improvements in public services.  Their meetings are in public with opportunities to contribute in line with usual Council meeting protocols.  All the details can be found here.

·         There is also a Harrogate & Knaresborough Planning Committee that receives and comments on all relevant planning applications for the area.  Details of this committee can be found here.

But what of a possible Harrogate Town Council?  Well, you still have time to have your say in the Community Governance Review which is open until the 5th May 2023.  It is really important to express your views on the need, or otherwise, for local services to be run by people as close to the ground as possible.  The link to the survey can be found here, but please do let me know if you’d like any further information on this important decision.

Having spent some time getting to know people and their concerns in the Duchy area over the last year it’s now full on for the new Council.  I’ve really appreciated the time and effort put in by local residents to see improvements in local services and sincerely hope that my own efforts have paid some dividends.  There’s a lot of work to do to keep the area safe, to maintain some level of bus services and to keep the roads and gullies in a fit state for public use, and much more.  Whilst there’s certainly room for improvement, I’m certainly getting the sense of local priorities.

North Yorkshire Council committed in its prospectus to Central Government for Unitary status to become the most local large unitary Council.  I am committed to holding them to their word wherever I can, whether in local engagement, community and voluntary support or in the day-to-day business of delivering services.  Thank you for the ongoing privilege of serving as your local Councillor on the new North Yorkshire Council, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

[email protected]

Town Council Community Governance Review – guest post from Cllr Peter Lacey
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