Updates from Angus Thompson – our councillor
NORTH YORKSHIRE COUNCILLOR’s REPORT MAY 2023.
The new North Yorkshire Council came into being on 1st April this year after months and months of planning and preparation. The transition from 7 District Councils and the County Council went amazingly smoothly, thank goodness.
NYC has an annual turnover of £1.4 billion and is the largest county in the UK both geographically and in turnover. The budget deficit this year is £30 million but with annual savings estimated at least £30 million we should see the benefits of the Unitary Council without losing services.
In the past the Planning Committee and Licencing Committee have been District Council committees but of course they no longer exist so 2 new committees have been set up to sit alongside the Richmond Area Constituency Committee. In planning terms this will cover the entire old Richmondshire and Hambleton Council areas except the part in the National Park and the Hambleton area from Thirsk southwards which is in Thirsk and Malton constituency.
Scotch Corner roundabout is becoming a major headache to local residents and motorists. I said at a recent Planning Committee that if we are not careful Scotch Corner roundabout will be well named as North Yorkshire’s biggest car park. I intend to put a question to the Executive Member for Highways at the NYC next Full Council Meeting asking him to take issue with NH regarding the fact that when consulted regarding planning applications which if granted, will increase the volume of traffic on the roundabout, NH appear to give no regard to the traffic figures and state that there is no problem with the increase in traffic if the application is granted. This is simply adding more vehicles to the problem. I will come back to this matter in the near future.
I have mentioned before in PC meetings my ongoing campaign against litter and fly tipping. I have agreed with Highways to trial signs in my division which can be moved around, saying things like ‘littering is a criminal offence. Bag it, bin it, take it home’. These signs have been trialled in County Durham and appear to have had success. I fully appreciate this isn’t a perfect solution but I hope it will prove to be a step in the right direction. I am in the process of writing to Rishi making suggestions as to what should be done at a National Level to combat this ‘British Problem’.
The 20’s Plenty campaign rumbles on but a blanket 20mph speed limit in all built up areas and villages throughout the county does not seem a possibility in the lifetime of the present council ie. the next 4 years because of the financial deficit. It would cost between 8 and 12 million pounds to set up. What is more likely is the possibility of PCs being able to request a 20mph zone in part of their village eg. outside a school.
Recycling is an issue which we will be looking at very closely over the next few years. We in Richmondshire are out of step with Hambleton for example in that we ask for recyclates to be placed in separate boxes in terms of glass, tins and plastic in another box. In other former districts everything goes in one box and is sorted back at the yard. But for us to move onto another system, in all probability the vehicles would have to be replaced. In many cases these are leased so it will pay to wait until the end of the finance arrangement before changing the system.
Food recycling is on the government’s agenda. This would involve every household being issued with a plastic container which could sit on their kitchen windowsill into which food waste would be deposited and collected by the council on a weekly basis. This system is up and running in many counties particularly in the south and the reports I have heard say it works well.
The food waste collected then goes into an anaerobic digestor and generates electricity. In our case this would probably take place at Allerton Park. In the meantime residents are encouraged to compost whatever they can in terms of food waste eg. potato peelings. Councils are being given 20 years to formulate a plan for food waste so it may be sometime before we go down the route. We can learn by mistakes of others and the start up costs will be high in any case.
On the first Thursday in May next year we will, subject to Government approval, go to the polls to elect our first ever Mayor who will represent North Yorkshire and the City of York. Anyone who is on the electoral roll within the area can stand for election, subject to having 10 people who are also on the said electoral role as seconders. But what we need is a dynamic character like Ben Houchen who has been a huge success in his position on Teesside to be an ambassador for our region. The difference between our Mayor and Ben will be that our Mayor will take over the position of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner too.
16th May 2023.