The leader of a district council which unsuccessfully resisted moves to merge it with six others and a county council has claimed residents are feeling the negative impact of local government reorganisation ahead of the new unitary authority being launched.

Hambleton District Council’s final full council meeting before the authority is replaced by North Yorkshire Council on April 1 saw Councillor Mark Robson hit out at people, such as the county council’s leadership, who supported the government’s demand for local authority restructuring as a prerequisite of devolution.

The condemnation of the creation of the North Yorkshire unitary authority follows the council refusing to support either the county council’s proposal for a single unitary authority or the other six district councils in the county for two authorities.

The meeting at Hambleton’s Stone Cross base saw members drop council meeting protocol by applauding politicians’ statements, outgoing chief executive Justin Ives quoting Romantic poet William Wordsworth and awards presented to numerous long-serving staff. 

Cllr Robson, who lost out in his attempt to become a member of the unitary authority last May, said Hambleton had never supported the move to create a single unitary authority.

He said he remained convinced the two-tier system was the best way to deliver local services and that highlighted how as the council’s leader he had set out to focus on being business-friendly, supporting growth and creating investment throughout the district.

Cllr Robson added: “I strongly believe that the residents of Hambleton will suffer as a result of reorganisation and I hope that those individuals who pushed for this to happen are proud of themselves.

“We can only hope that the new authority keep and maintain the legacy that we will be leaving. Signs, unfortunately of change are already happening, whether it be reduced customer service desk opening times or council tax increase.”

He said the authority’s legacy included a string of projects, including the North Northallerton bridge, the redevelopment of the former Northallerton prison site and enabling the resumption of end of life care at Lambert Hospital in Thirsk, over and above the council’s normal responsibilities.

Hambleton’s deputy leader, Councillor Peter Wilkinson, told members the council's achievements were the result of teamwork involving its officers.

He said: “We are leaving a strong economic development legacy of which all our members can be very proud of what we have achieved for our business community”

After the meeting, county council leader Councillor Carl Les, who has been credited as a driving force behind the unitary authority changes, said he had been proud to be a member of Hambleton council for 26 years.

He added: “There’s no doubt that Hambleton has been a successful district council and my issue has never been with individual councils, but rather that two tiers of councils is not the most efficient form of local government.”