First steps towards devolution for another part of Yorkshire

The City of York Council is working with North Yorkshire County Council and the councils of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Scarborough, Selby, Richmondshire and Ryedale to begin the process of agreeing a York and North Yorkshire devolution proposal.

Since 2018, the York & North Yorkshire region has been discussing devolution after leaders across Yorkshire committed to developing a joined-up “One Yorkshire” deal. However, the UK Government said it would first prefer smaller devolved deals.

Since then, Sheffield City Region has elected its first mayor in Dan Jarvis, and in March this year, a deal was agreed for West Yorkshire.

A spokesman for the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) explained: “A York and North Yorkshire deal is the only option currently on the table for our sub-region.

“Given the need for our sub-region to work together in response, councils have agreed to explore with Government what opportunities the potential for devolution could bring.

“The timetable is still to be set for York and North Yorkshire to make decisions about its own devolution, aiming to take place between 2020 and 2022.

“This follows the West Yorkshire deal and will provide the region the opportunity to secure similar funding and powers, so it can match investment and ambition across the Northern Powerhouse.”

The LEP says a devolution deal for York & North Yorkshire could potentially unlock significant investment over 30 years.

It would enable greater local investment in transport, housing, town centre regeneration and development, digital connectivity, skills and employability.

The LEP statement adds: “Local investment is hugely important in the wake of the pandemic, as despite having a diverse and robust economy the York and North Yorkshire region has been hard hit.

“With 98.5% of the region’s businesses made up of micro and small businesses, many which rely primarily on the visitor economy the, scale of economic impact across the region is unprecedented.

“Devolution would mean the region has greater control of investment into the region which could stimulate business growth and accelerate recovery from Covid-19.

“We are now at the stage where leaders from each of the local authorities across York & North Yorkshire are considering a set of ‘asks’ which are laid out in the devolution proposal.

“At meetings taking place throughout July, each local authority is being asked to agree to begin the process of negotiating a devolution deal by agreeing the ‘asks’.

“There are many steps needing to be taken to negotiate a deal – this is the first.

“If conversations between the councils and Government progress well, a governance review will be required to take place, including a full consultation, which will provide residents, communities and businesses a full opportunity to share their views before decisions are made.

“If the local authorities collectively agree the set of ‘asks’, a devolution proposal will be submitted to Government and the process of negotiating a devolution deal will begin.”