THE leader of Ryedale District Council (RDC) has said he is seeking a better alternative to plans for a North Yorkshire-wide “super council”.

Cllr Keane Duncan said he is working to find an arrangement to “keep local government local” under plans to reorganise councils across the county. Current proposals include creating a single unitary authority, delivering all council services to the 600,000 residents in North Yorkshire, with the district councils abolished, but keep the City of York, already a unitary authority.

Cllr Duncan said he is instead working with other district leaders to explore the creation of two unitary authorities of roughly equal size, each with 400,000 residents, by involving York in proposals.

He said: “My aim is to keep local government local. But this isn’t just about size, it’s about identity too. For Ryedale, we have much greater links and connections with the City of York than more distant parts of North Yorkshire.

“Connecting it with neighbouring areas like Ryedale holds great potential for jobs and investment. It would also allow us to push for the long-awaited dualling of the A64 with renewed strength and unity.

“This alternative option should not only out-perform the ‘super council’ in financial terms, but empower communities and enrich democracy at the same time. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this right.”

Earlier this month local government minister Simon Clarke MP told council leaders that reorganisation would be required in advance of devolution of powers and spending from Whitehall. Reorganisation could see new authorities formed as soon as May 2022.

Cllr Di Keal, Liberal Democrats leader at RDC, said: “RDC needs a face-to-face full council meeting as soon as possible so we can fully debate the council’s position on the proposals that are being forced on us with indecent haste by the Tory Government, otherwise we risk losing Ryedale as it is swamped in an enormous one unitary model.

“Fighting to split the county into two unitaries - placing Ryedale with Scarborough, York and Hambleton - seems like the only way that Ryedale people stand a chance of retaining any local representation.”