THE former leader of Ryedale District Council has said there is a 'difficult path ahead' following tonight's announcement regarding changes to local government.

Years of debate and divisions about devolution appear to have now ended with confirmation that a new single-county unitary is to be created in North Yorkshire.

The new council will operate alongside the existing unitary City of York Council.

However county and district Councillor Keane Duncan, who was a key architect of the alternative east-west proposal, said: “While there will be some inevitable disappointment, I would appeal now to everyone involved to accept the government’s decision.


“Reorganisation elsewhere has shown that legal challenges rarely, if ever, lead to success and cost the taxpayer dearly.


“There is a difficult path ahead, but we have excellent people at both county and district level who I know will unite together to shape this brand-new authority in the best interests of the residents we serve.”

The move has been announced tonight following approval from Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick. 

He said: “Residents, businesses and service providers in North Yorkshire have had their say on what will work best for their area and now councils can start planning for the next step.

“I have always been clear that any restructuring of local government must be locally-led and will not involve top-down solutions from Government. 

“These plans will help strengthen local leaderships and ensure residents of North Yorkshire are receiving the consistent high-quality services they deserve.”  

The alternative option had been to create two completely new authorities split on an east/west basis to replace the current two-tier system - with York merging with Ryedale, Selby and Scarborough councils in the east. 

The ultimate aim is to save money by bringing all council services, including highways, planning and education, under the control of a streamlined structure.

It has been described by many as a once-in-a-generation opportunity that should be grabbed.     

Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat leader of York council, welcomed the news, and said: “Now we will get to work to access the investment that could be unlocked by devolution, which will benefit our communities and businesses and help facilitate a strong recovery.”


The locally-led plans are being taken forward, subject to Parliamentary approval, after a period of consultation which considered views from residents, business leaders and councils. 

The Local Government Secretary has asked the existing councils and their partners to work collaboratively and constructively together to drive forward the process of establishing unitary councils

Subject to Parliamentary approval, it is expected that new councils would be fully operational from April 2023, with transitional arrangements and elections to the new structure set to take place in 2022.