The leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council has criticised the expansion ambitions of Hull City Council.
Councillor Stephen Parnaby OBE has also lambasted politicians from the city council for their “clap-trap” comparisons of the two neighbouring authorities.
Councillor Parnaby will address a full meeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Council this afternoon (Wednesday, 30 July) about the issue of possible boundary change between the two councils.
He said: “I have previously said I didn’t want to enter into a war of words with the city council but I am sick and tired of hearing and reading clap-trap coming from all corners of the Guildhall.
“Hull City Council has set up a commission to look into boundary change with no discussion whatsoever with us.
“The city council decided who would be on the commission, again with no discussion with us and with no invitation to join it.
“What we have is a take-over bid by the city council and it is pretty crude – no frills or finesse – just a land-grab.”
In September, residents in 12 parishes of the East Riding which border Hull have the opportunity to vote in a boundary referendum which East Riding of Yorkshire Council is holding in response to Hull City Council’s setting up of a commission to look into four options for change.
The city council’s commission has been tasked with investigating the feasibility of either combining the two councils into a single authority, extending the city council’s boundary to include a 30-minute Hull-travel-to-work area, extending the city council to include neighbouring towns and villages in the East Riding or combining some aspects of the two councils’ work, such as planning, tourism and economic development.
Councillor Parnaby said: “The issue of boundary change is hugely important to every East Riding resident and business.
“The referendum is the public’s chance to block a boundary review in its tracks but people need to use their vote, not think it will go away or won’t happen.
“If Hull City Council takes over the surrounding towns and villages, the first thing to go will be the green open spaces separating Hull from the East Riding. Hull will get what it wants and will build on the land it owns in those areas.
“Those towns and villages will lose their individual identities and characters and the open space will be lost for ever.
“There are no town and parish councils in Hull. What does the future hold for town and parish councils in the referendum area if they come under the control of the city council?”
Councillor Parnaby also responded to comparisons made by some Hull city councillors about Central Government funding for the two councils.
“All local authorities have received the same percentage reduction but if you start off with a higher figure then the reduction in cost terms will be greater – that doesn’t necessarily mean you are badly off.
“In the case of the East Riding, our funding from Central Government is £389 per head – one of the lowest rates in the country – but Hull’s is £772 per head, even after four years of reductions. That is almost double what the East Riding receives.
“Despite that difference in funding, East Riding of Yorkshire Council has avoided the slash and burn and large-scale redundancies made by the city council in recent years.
“We have invested in and developed our customer service centres, not closed them. We invest in our libraries, museums and art galleries. We have seven main leisure centres which are either new or recently refurbished. What is Hull doing?
“If the city council succeeds in expanding, it will mean job losses, the loss of open spaces and a loss of services to East Riding residents.”