NORTH Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) executive has instructed its officers to put forward a bid for a unitary authority as part of the devolution process.

Last month local government minister Simon Clarke told North Yorkshire and York council leaders to prepare proposals to create one or more unitary authorities to cover the area by September. The reorganisation could see new authorities formed by May 2022, with devolution of powers following in May 2023 with the election of a “metro mayor” for the area.

NYCC leader, Cllr Carl Les, said a single council would simplify things for people and businesses, renew economic fortunes and protect and strengthen services.

He said: “It will also unleash the county’s potential and deliver very significant financial savings by ending duplication, improving efficiency and driving innovation. No other bid would be able to match these benefits. Equally importantly it will protect a global and recognised brand which is crucial for our visitor economy.”

Ryedale District Council (RDC) leader Cllr Keane Duncan, who is also a Conservative county councillor for Norton, said he was 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 added: “A county-wide option would be the largest unitary ever created in England in terms of both population and area. My aim is to keep local government local. But this isn’t just about size, it’s about identity too.”

Malton County Cllr Lindsay Bur, who is leader of the Independent Group on RDC, said: “RDC has been put in a shocking position by the government. We must get the best for residents, stand our ground and drive the process. RDC has served residents well locally and a unitary will not. I want to have local representatives who are in touch with local people. I also want to spend all Ryedale’s hard earned cash on our residents and meaningful projects that will enhance our area and lives and not have our money compulsory stolen from us.”