Agenda item

Final Recommendations on the Community Governance Reviews relating to the unparished town centres in Harrogate and Scarborough - Report of the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services)


Considered –


The Report of the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services). This report was introduced by the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services), explaining that as the remit of the Committee had expanded to include governance matters, the community governance reviews carried out for Harrogate and Scarborough needed to be considered. This would allow for both areas to move from a position of consultation towards proposal on the matters of the town centres becoming parished.


The report was then explained by the Democratic Services Manager, Elizabeth Jackson, and the Head of Democratic Services and Corporate Modernisation for Scarborough, Kerry Russett. They highlighted the recommendations for their respective areas, the warding arrangements being proposed, and drew upon the comments and consultation feedback provided by residents.


With permission from the Chair, Councillor Sam Gibbs, on behalf of Councillor Michael Harrison, spoke of a potential alternative arrangement to the warding patterns of the newly parished areas. It was acknowledged that the act of both town centres becoming parished, alongside the additional surrounding areas, was positive and they supported it. However, the importance of getting it right was paramount. Therefore, it was proposed that there should be a single Council election, with no wards, and reducing the overall number of Councillors. The reason for this was due to concerns over the level of identity found in the ward system. If that were not agreed to, though, then the idea of single Councillor wards would be preferable to having multiple Councillors for only a few wards. That would still provide a greater level of accountability for the residents.


Members raised questions and gave feedback on both the initial report and the supplementary presentation:


-        Members were supportive of both areas becoming parished. One Member said it would bring local connection back to the community, especially with the “mystery” of the North Yorkshire Council.

-        Several Members disagreed with the notion of no wards but agreed with single Council wards as it would prevent overloading wards with Councillors and would allow for the Councillor to be known to the community.

-        A Member said that representation related to place and, even if there were not an immediate connection, residents would eventually know what their ward was over time.

-        There was concern over why the presentation given by Councillor Gibbs had not been given in the consultation phase, rather than at this stage in the programme.

-        One Member asked whether, if they went with a recommendation for single ward Town Councils, then would they need to consult again. The Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) said that revised proposals would need to be fully considered. One of the Members in favour of this option said that this would still be preferable as it would be harder to change the governance arrangements afterwards, so a delay would be worth doing in the long-term. A Councillor asked whether they would keep consulting until they got the evidence they wanted?


Resolved –


It was moved and seconded that the Standards and Governance Committee make recommendations to Council in relation to each of the areas under review at A) to E), and that the recommendations in the report be approved.


On a vote being taken 3 Members voted for the motion and 3 voted against.  The Chair used his casting vote to vote against the motion and the motion therefore fell.


It was then moved and seconded that parish councils be created for Harrogate and Scarborough, with a warding pattern of single councillor wards.  On a vote being taken 3 Members voted for the motion and 3 Members voted against.  The Chair used his casting vote to vote for the motion and it was carried.


The Report will go to Full Council on 19 July with the amended recommendation for single Councillor wards. The timeframe set out in the report and appendices will be amended accordingly.


Councillor Gibbs left the meeting after this item.

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