THE Yarm for Yorkshire campaign suffered a set-back this evening (Thursday, September 4) when an influential council committee rejected the idea.
Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet met to consider the verdict of a May poll which showed 89 per cent of the 24 per cent of eligible Yarm voters opted to incorporate the town into neighbouring Hambleton District Council in North Yorkshire.
The cabinet warned that townsfolk had not been given important information on the implications, including the fact that such a move could leave the tax-payer with a £100,000 bill.
The matter will now go to the full council - who will make a final decision on whether to override the cabinet and refer the proposal to the Government’s Boundary Commission.
The May poll in Yarm was organised and paid for by Yarm Town Council and its leader, Peter Monck, said he stands by its verdict to quit the borough of Stockton.
Joining Hambleton was also backed by former Labour Yarm councillor, Terry Chapman, who spoke at the meeting held in Stockton Central Library.
He said recently introduced parking charges on Yarm High Street was bringing in £400,000 a year and the council was also benefitting from thousands of pounds in ‘new homes bonus’ money after approving hundreds of new homes in the Yarm area.
“If the council is minded to refuse this request (to refer the issue to the Boundary Commission) it makes a farce of democracy," he added.
Several cabinet members pointed out that only 24 per cent of Yarm people voted - meaning the opinion of 76 per cent was unknown and that money raised from parking charges could only be spent on transport issues.
Director of Public Health for Stockton, Peter Kelly, said funding for the NHS and public health, including for the NHS, was higher in Stockton than in North Yorkshire and a move to Hambleton would complicate matters for GPs operating in the town.
Cllr Ann McCoy, Labour, said she had personally received an unsolicited email from a school governor in the town worried about the effects on education.
Cllr Jim Beall, Labour, said a lot of the dissatisfaction expressed by people in Yarm related to the number of housing applications that had been passed in recent years. However that was down to a change in Government guidelines not the council, he argued. He said: “The way for the people of Yarm to change that is to vote to change the Government.”
The full council meets on Wednesday, September 17, but the agenda has not yet been agreed.