Liberal Democrats are calling on Harrogate Borough Council to release its "secret report" on council reorganisation.
The Council has grouped together with other district councils to commission consultancy firm KPMG to produce a submission on the future of local government in North Yorkshire. In August it completed a preliminary report on the various options, on which councils supposedly based a preference for an East-West split.
Liberal Democrats have requested a copy of this taxpayer-funded report on multiple occasions along with details of how much has been spent and what guidance KPMG has been given throughout the process. They say it should be made publicly available, however the council has so far resisted.
Although the Government has since gone silent on the matter, it asked councils to have submissions ready for September. Now, in October, there have been no signs of any consultation with residents or councillors.
Liberal Democrat councillors have described this as yet another example of Harrogate Borough Council Leader Richard Cooper and Conservative councillors "attempting to rule by decree".
Commenting, Councillor Pat Marsh said:
"Liberal Democrats have called on Harrogate Borough Council to release its KPMG report several times now. If Conservatives aren't going to consult with residents on the future of local services, the very least they can do is be transparent about how decisions are being made.
"Unfortunately this is typical of our Conservative-run Council. It won't speak to residents or their elected representatives about huge issues like this, and when it does it is telling them what is happening at the eleventh hour, rather allowing any input. It would appear that Richard Cooper would rather rule by decree than risk hearing a differing view.
Judith Rogerson added:
"The Conservatives are suggesting considerable restructuring to our system of local government. Residents need to be sure that what is being proposed is driven not just by what’s politically convenient, but what will deliver the best deal for their community. So far we've had no explanation of why local Tory leaders have opted for an East-West split of the county.
"Our communities in Harrogate, Knaresborough, and Boroughbridge have closer economic, social and transport links to York and its surroundings than with the rural communities to the north of us. As things stand it's difficult to understand why the East-West split is the preferred option.
"Harrogate Borough Council must release the secret report immediately."