FOLLOWING last night's Ryedale District Council meeting many local residents may wonder how the authority will now be run.

At the meeting, which was a continuation of business from the previous week, Councillor Keane Duncan resigned as Leader of the Council and Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee.

Councillor Steve Arnold resigned as Deputy Leader of the Council and Vice-Chair of Policy and Resources Committee.

Both Councillors remain members of the Council, leaders of their respective political groups, and members of the Policy and Resources Committee.

The next Policy and Resources committee will be held on 18 March. At that meeting, it is anticipated that a new Chair and Vice-Chair will be appointed.

The decision on whether to have a Leader and Deputy Leader of Council and, if so, who will hold that position, is ordinarily made at Annual Council in May. At this point we expect that Ryedale District Council will operate without a Leader and Deputy Leader until decisions are made at that May meeting.

Unlike some Councils where elected members (such as the Leader, Mayor or Cabinet Members) have individual decision-making powers, decision-making at Ryedale District Council is collective by committee, and the operational business of the Council is carried out by officers. The Council will therefore be able to operate effectively until such time as Councillors have decided on any new appointments.

Regarding the funding which was allocated, the council reserves are money that the council is expected to set aside, but they can also use them to invest in one-off projects, and to cover emergencies. Having a healthy level of reserves is considered necessary. It gives a council the opportunity to deal with unforeseen circumstances and undertake initiatives that are outside of “business-as-usual”. For example, Ryedale District Council has drawn on its reserves to cover extra demand on its services due to the COVID pandemic.

Reserves can be spent on a wide range of things, but would not usually be spent on projects that are not the responsibility of a district council to do. For example, Ryedale District Council would not spend reserves on maintaining the roads, as road maintenance is the responsibility of the County Council. According to Ryedale District Council’s financial strategy, the spending of reserves is subject to a detailed business case being approved by Members of the council.

At the Council meeting on 18 March, Councillors of Ryedale District Council voted to ring-fence funds from its reserves for a number of projects. These included: · £1.5m to support the development of a new livestock market · £200k for community projects in Pickering · £307k for the Milton Rooms Whilst this money is “reserved”, a business case on each project will need to be approved by Councillors before money is actually spent.

At last night’s Council meeting, Councillors voted to spend an additional £193k on building improvements at the Milton Rooms as part of the capital budget. This was against a specific proposal, so it can now go ahead.