Councils plan revives Yorkshire Ridings: Ngaio Crequer studies a scheme which could lead to the abolition of Humberside County Council as all-purpose authorities replace two-tier structure

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The Independent Online
THE YORKSHIRE Ridings will be restored and Humberside County Council, created in 1974, abolished under draft proposals announced yesterday by the Local Government Commission for England.

Humberside and North Yorkshire will be served by five new all-purpose authorities, replacing the existing two-tier structure of 15 county and district councils. Sir John Banham, chairman of the commission, said the changes would lead to savings of pounds 14m a year, equivalent to pounds 28 per household.

The commission's report said: 'Many people in Yorkshire have not been persuaded to surrender their historic loyalties and live under the umbrella of an artificially created county.'

North Humberside would be restored to Yorkshire under the proposals. The five new councils would be: the City of York, with its boundary enlarged; Kingston upon Hull; the East Riding, covering the present districts of Beverley, East Yorkshire, Holderness, Selby, and part of Boothferry; the North Riding, covering the districts of Hambleton, Richmondshire, Rydedale, and Scarborough, and possibly also the district of Langbaurgh, now in Cleveland but part of Yorkshire up to 1974; and the West Riding, covering the present districts of Craven and Harrogate.

Sir John emphasised that the arguments for change were 'finely balanced' and they were embarking on an ambitious consultation process to discover the views of residents. 'Local government is not a benefits society for councillors and their officers. It exists for local people.'

He also announced that the South Humberside area should return to a restored historic Lincolnshire. It would be covered by two new Lincolnshire unitary councils. One, called North East Lincolnshire, would cover the districts of Cleethorpes and Great Grimsby. The other, North Lincolnshire, would cover the districts of Glanford and Scunthorpe, and the Isle of Axholme from Boothferry district.

But the commission recommended that the present two-tier system of local government should continue in the Lincolnshire County Countil area. It is the first time the commission has proposed no change in an existing structure.

Yesterday's announcement marks the end of the first tranche of the local government reviews. If the proposals are accepted by Parliament, it will mean the creation of 25 new unitary authorities in place of the existing 75 different councils, and savings of about pounds 80m a year.

Sir John said: 'The commission has not bought wholesale the case of either the Association of District Councils or the Association of County Councils.

'We have recommended no changes when the benefits do not justify them. They are based on people's stated feelings on where they belong.'

He added that in a poll undertaken by the commision a third of all residents in Humberside could not spontaneously name a service provided by a council. 'This is a huge indictment of local government,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)