THIS week marks 40 years since North Yorkshire, England's largest county, was created.

North Yorkshire County Council took over from the old North Riding, bringing in parts of the West Riding, and the City of York.

The year 1974 was marked by an inflation rate of more than 17 per cent , two general elections, the disappearance of Lord Lucan, and the wholesale reorganisation of local government in England and Wales.

Conservative Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, John Weighell said: “People forget what huge changes we have seen in the intervening forty years.

"Back then, there were no desktop computers, no mobile phones; most of the work of administration was carried out by hand or on typewriters.

"It is only when one looks back on what was then the everyday, that one fully realises the huge advances in technology, working practices, efficiency and so on that have taken place not just in local government, but in society as a whole.”

The authority now employs more than 13,000 people and spends over £899 million a year.

In 1974 of the 93 councillors, 84 were men and nine women, just under ten per cent. Today there are 72 members, 15 of them (21 per cent) women.

“The authority which came into being in 1974 was very much a continution of what went before, certainly in terms of its make-up.

“The North Yorkshire County Council of today is a very different proposition. Things like the somewhat lavish refreshments, the County Club where members could enjoy a drink, and so on, are long gone.”

Veteran Independent councillor Robert Heseltine added: “Council meetings were often attended by the wives of members wearing all their finery, ready for an afternoon at the races after the meeting.”

“The past 40 years have seen great changes in local government,” added Coun Weighell.

“But I think the developments we are likely to see in the next four or five years, driven by increasing demand and steadily decreasing funding, will come to be seen as constituting a period of much greater and very much more fundamental change.”