The newly re-elected Leader of North Yorkshire County Council has set out his priorities and hopes for the future in a message to the people of the county - and pledged that the authority will "work to achieve the best for North Yorkshire".
Councillor Carl Les, who was re-elected Leader at today's annual meeting of the council at County Hall in Northallerton, said this month's elections, and "the new faces it has brought into our midst" would provide renewed impetus for progress.
"Our priority will always be to protect the frontline services that benefit all residents of North Yorkshire as much as we can," he said, "but in these uncertain times when we will continue to face austerity for many years to come, it is inevitable that the nature of services and the way they are delivered will continue to change.
"The county council is in a strong financial position to face the challenges ahead and as a newly elected council we will face these challenges and our priorities with renewed vigour.
"We will continue to help North Yorkshire's economy grow through the work of the local enterprise partnership and the continuing expansion of high-speed fibre broadband to more remote rural areas. We are close to a £21m procurement contract for phase three of Superfast North Yorkshire, a programme we set up to address market failure. By the end of phase three the total number of business and residential premises connected to high quality broadband will reach 96 per cent and our ambition is to reach as near to 100 per cent as possible.
"No doubt we will also be taking full advantage of the long-lasting opportunities offered by the Tour de Yorkshire and other world-class cycling events programmed for our county.
"The County Council continues to promote east-west connectivity and the upgrading of key rail and road arterial routes such as the A59 and A66 as well as the relief of congestion in Harrogate. What's more, we must never overlook opportunities to improve the safety and connectivity of the A64, a Highways England road but which nevertheless is a major concern and priority for us.
"North Yorkshire has an ageing population, which creates increasing demand for health and care services. We will therefore strengthen our work with private, public and volunteer partners to support the elderly and vulnerable, helping them to remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible.
"We will pursue our ambition for an extra care development in every market town and carry on our innovative work to combat loneliness and isolation.
"North Yorkshire is blessed with a strong volunteering culture and the county council will continue to work in partnership with groups and communities to provide innovative solutions for services such as transport and libraries. Helping people to help themselves.
"North Yorkshire has built a national reputation in children's services and we aim to maintain that position. We will continue to protect and educate our children, striving to make the county one of the best places for children and young people to grow up.
"Actions we take to address all these issues will be set against a background of ongoing financial constraint but our new council is committed to finding the best solutions to supporting our communities."
Today's annual meeting also confirmed the holders of the council portfolios, who together make up the Council Executive.
- Cllr Carl Les, Leader, Communications, Emergency Planning and Community Safety;
- Cllr Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader, Finance and Assets, and Special Projects, including financial and HR performance management;
- Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children's` Services;
- Cllr Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills, including early years, schools, apprenticeships, FE colleges & UTC`s, and engagement with the skills agenda of the LEP;
- Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, including highways, road and rail transport, public transport; broadband, mobile phones; public rights of way
- Cllr David Chance, Executive Member for Stronger Communities, including committee services, legal services, corporate development, Overview and Scrutiny committees, Area Committees, performance management and locality budgets;
- Cllr Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Health and Adult Services, including Health and Wellbeing Board, health integration, extra care;
- Cllr Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Supported Housing, including Sustainability and Transformation Plans (issues re Friarage and Darlington Hospitals);
- Cllr Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Open to Business, including growth, economic development, planning, waste management, trading standards unit and business relations;
- Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Customer Engagement, including contact centre, website, libraries, digital, and performance management (complaints and compliments)