Local Government Reorganisation: Three New Northern Unitary Authorities Launch

On the 1st April, the new North Yorkshire Council launched as part of the government’s restructuring of local government in England, marking an exciting new chapter in the history of local government in the region. This newly-formed unitary local authority has been created by merging the existing county council of North Yorkshire with the district councils of Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, and Selby. This replaces the two-tier system of county and district councils – excluding City of York – which has been in place since 1974. The merger aims to streamline decision-making processes and reduce administrative costs, as well as provide more effective public services to the c. 615,000 people in the region.

The unitary authority will have a wide range of responsibilities, including the provision of education and social care services, managing waste and recycling, and maintaining local highways and transport networks. It will also have a significant role in promoting economic growth and development in the region, working with local businesses and other stakeholders to create new jobs and support local industries.

Last year, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced that the new North Yorkshire Council and the City of York Council had agreed a proposal for a devolution deal, as part of the government’s commitment to delivering on the levelling up missions set out in the Levelling Up White Paper. Both authorities will come together to form a mayoral combined authority, requiring the election of a directly elected mayor. The anticipation is that the election for the first mayor of the new combined authority will take place in May 2024. These proposals are subject to public consultation.

Meanwhile, on 1st April 2023 two unitary authorities in Cumbria launched and will provide all the services previously provided by district councils and the county council. These unitary authorities are split by East (Westmorland and Furness) and West (Cumberland).

Cumberland Council will replace Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Borough Council, Carlisle City Council and Copeland Borough Council.

Westmorland and Furness Council will provide services to those in the current areas of Cumbria County Council, Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council, Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council.

Westmorland and Furness Council has become England’s third largest unitary authority by area, providing services to approximately 225,000 residents.