HOUSEHOLDERS in York have overwhelmingly rejected plans to merge council boundaries with Selby, the Evening Press can reveal.

In a survey carried out by pollsters MORI for the Boundary Commission, 62 per cent of those questioned rejected any change.

Only nine per cent were in favour.

The findings have sparked calls for York residents to be given a vote on any merger proposals put forward by the Boundary Commission.

North Yorkshire's boundaries must change if the referendum on plans for a Yorkshire regional assembly returns a "yes" vote later this year.

The county's district councils will be abolished and replaced by unitary authorities, which take charge of everything from rubbish collection to schools.

On the referendum voting form, householders whose councils may be scrapped must be given two options for the future.

One option is set to be the formation of a single council covering all of North Yorkshire, except for York, which already has a unitary council. The second will involve merging existing district councils into a number of smaller one-tier authorities - including the prospect of adding Selby to York's boundaries.

York MP Hugh Bayley said that, while those whose councils might be scrapped would get a say, York residents will not.

York has about 150,000 residents compared with 50,000 in Selby.

Mr Bayley told the Evening Press: "It is absurd that you could have an arranged marriage between two parties when one clearly does not want to take part.

"Sixty-two per cent are saying no. York has a clear identity.

"If you add on a 30-mile stretch down to Selby, services will be less accessible and there will be a much higher cost of delivering them. People in York must be given a say."

Selby MP John Grogan said: "The problem is that Selby people, on the whole, do not want to join East Riding of Yorkshire, which was the main option put to them.

"But, on the other hand, many York residents have severe doubts about joining Selby - despite strong health, police and education links between the two districts.

"The Boundary Commission have got to offer two options, of which one will certainly be a North Yorkshire unitary county council running all services from Northallerton. I think the other option, in the light of this polling evidence, is likely to include Selby district being split - with the villages just to the south of York joining the city, but with the other parts being joined up with Wakefield and even Harrogate."

Updated: 08:25 Monday, May 03, 2004