THE leader of Craven District Council has joined forces with the leaders of district and borough council in calling on the Prime Minister to shelve local government reorganisation in North Yorkshire.

In a joint letter to Boris Johnson, the leaders ask for reorganisation to be put to one side to allow the region to focus on the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Councils say in July, they were led to believe as part of the government’s reform agenda that devolution for North Yorkshire could only be delivered if local government reorganisation happened.

The seven district and borough council leaders began working together to identify an ‘effective, efficient and credible way’ to reorganise.

The leaders have worked with independent experts to prepare a possible local government model for councillors across all the districts and boroughs to vote on, if reorganisation was compulsory.

However, given that the region and the nation as a whole remains in the grip of a global pandemic, this week the district and borough council leaders have asked that government reconsider and allow devolution without the need for reorganisation.

Cllr Richard Foster said: “There is no doubt the Covid-19 situation has worsened nationwide and this will inevitably put extra pressure and new demands on district and borough councils to further support our communities and businesses as we work through this crisis together.

“Let me be clear, this critical responsibility must come first, and we must not be distracted by an unnecessary, resource-intensive and ill-timed local government reorganisation.

“The letter we have sent makes this point in the strongest possible terms and we look forward to the government response with what we hope is a sensible and realistic way forward for North Yorkshire in these difficult times.”