Labour Councillors propose cut to number of councillors in North Yorkshire

In their first policy announcement of the new year prior to local elections in May, Scarborough Borough Council Labour Group has called for a reduction in the number of councillors representing the borough’s area from 64 to 28. This would be part of a radical shake-up of local councils, by creating one council providing all services instead of the present two – North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council. In the Borough Council area there are currently 50 Borough Councillors and 14 County Councillors.


Cllr. Colin Challen, Leader of the Labour Group on Scarborough Borough Council said “The system of local government here is untenable, inefficient and ineffective. Having two councils doesn’t make any sense when the trend now is to get more done under one roof and removing duplication. Regardless of the government’s relentless war against local councils, this proposal makes sense. In the context of how many councillors we could have as a unitary authority, based on having two councillors in each existing county division, we could easily manage with 28 in the Scarborough Borough area. The fact that we currently have 64 is not tenable. But we want to see this reduction in numbers taking place in a radical overhaul. We are not talking about cutting for cutting’s sake. We would move to a system closer to say Leeds, where 99 councillors represent around 750,000 people. In Scarborough, 64 councillors represent around 100,000 people, so we can see what a difference there is.”


The Labour Group favour a unitary council solution which would have two or three authorities replacing the present eight in the North Yorkshire area.


3 thoughts on “Labour Councillors propose cut to number of councillors in North Yorkshire

  1. I believe this suggestion makes a great deal of common sense, the only word of caution I would make is that people in the Whitby area would be bitterly opposed to a unitary Borough of Scarborough, though this is not what is been suggested.

    A report in 2003 made some some sensible proposals, my favorite was a return of the name “North Riding of Yorkshire” by amalgamating Scarborough, Hambleton, Ryedale and Richmondshire, and a second option was to join together Scarborough and Ryedale to create “Northeast Yorkshire”.
    One authority doing everything makes a lot of sense, though I do feel that a unitary North Yorkshire would be too vast.

    • If going for unitary councils I’d favour Scarborough and Ryedale combining to form a Coast & Moors council. Ryedale has lost 50% of its population to York’s expansion and that has had inevitable impacts on its ability to function effectively.

  2. You can’t compare a rural authority like Scarborough to an urban authority like Leeds. In Leeds you can have a ward of 15,000 people represented by three councillors only a couple of miles across. In Scarborough to have the same ratio you’d end up with wards 20 or thirty miles across. Over the years and decades, local government world-wide has found that the best ratio of councillors is not 1:1 of council population, but propotional to the square root of the population. This recognises that urban areas have a more compact population so can function with wards geographically smaller wards with larger population, and rural areas have spread out populations so are better represented with wards with smaller populations to prevent them covering huge areas of geography.

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