City of York Council is 'too small to be truly effective' and has a 'track record of instability hampering progress', York Outer MP Julian Sturdy says.

In a column in The Press today urging the case for York to merge with Selby, Ryedale and Scarborough, the MP says: "Since I was first selected as the Conservative Party candidate for York Outer in 2007, City of York Council has had four administrations with four different political make-ups.

"We have had a local plan, scrapped a local plan, rewritten a local plan and are now seemingly making no progress on adopting the local plan.

"Our Community Stadium took two decades to progress from idea to reality, running over time and over budget.

"To me it is clear that currently our local authority is too small to be truly effective. We already coordinate NHS, fire and police services across a larger geographical footprint than our city, so why can we not do the same for local government?"

Mr Sturdy says the city council has 'allocated an ample share of their communication budget – or residents’ council tax money – on promoting only one option available for devolution, which would effectively mean no change to York'.

"I will therefore take the chance to ...promote the other option, which I feel has the potential to solve many longstanding issues affecting our city while cashing in on the full potential of devolution," he says.

"I favour the East-West model which would halve the county of North Yorkshire to create two unitary authorities with a roughly equal population and economy. It would allow us to streamline services and deliver a minimum of £33 million in savings, which could be passed on to residents."

Responding to Mr Sturdy's comments, council leader Keith Aspden said today that the model supported by the MP, which was put forward by North Yorkshire's district councils, would involve 'merging York into a distant and undemocratic council, stretching from the outskirts of Redcar and Cleveland to those of Doncaster, along the east coast'.

"This council would be 65 miles north to south and 45 miles east to west," he said. "A council such as this would centralise decision-making, remove local accountability and weaken local community engagement in York. To suggest that a council covering such a huge geographical area, across wide varieties of disparate communities, would retain accountability to local people defies logic."

Cllr Aspden added: "Contrary to claims that an East-West council proposal would involve budget savings and provide better value for taxpayer’s money, it would actually, according to an international accountancy firm, lead to an increase in council tax of £117 for a Band D property.

"On top of this, resources would inevitably be diverted away from York to subsidise services being delivered in more expensive rural and coastal communities. York's residents would simply end up paying more to receive less. "In the midst of an international pandemic, it makes more sense to back proposals that cause as little disruption as possible to allow councils to concentrate on recovery at this critical time."