Plans for landmark devolution deal are unveiled

Long-awaited proposals for a devolution deal to hand over key decision-making powers while bringing hundreds of millions of pounds of investment to York and North Yorkshire have been unveiled.

The proposed 30-year devolution agreement would deliver funding for key policies and strategies, providing better roads and public transport, improving education and job opportunities, boosting the economy and placing York and North Yorkshire at the forefront of the green energy sector.

The planned agreement, with which the total funding agreed rises above £540m to York and North Yorkshire, has been provisionally agreed with the Government.

York and North Yorkshire would see the introduction of an elected mayor for the region, to lead a mayoral combined authority.

The mayor, who would be elected in May 2024 if the recommended deal comes to fruition, would lead a new combined authority that would oversee key strategic projects ranging from major transport improvements to providing more affordable housing and boosting skills and education.

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Councillor Carl Les, said: “The chance to secure a wide range of decision-making powers as well as bringing in millions of pounds of investment for North Yorkshire is a huge opportunity for us all to shape our own future for many years to come.

“It will make a real difference to the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in North Yorkshire, driving future prosperity and much better opportunities that are so important to everyone.

“Whether it is improving skills and education, bringing in more investment to the region or helping improve transport links and providing much-needed affordable housing, the proposed deal would enable us to take far greater control of our own destinies.”

City of York Council’s leader, Cllr Keith Aspden, added: “This is a significant milestone on the journey to secure devolution for York and North Yorkshire, and is undoubtedly a historic moment for our city, given the significant investment and powers this devolution deal can potentially bring to York and the wider region.

“Given its significance, I would encourage everyone in the city to take the opportunity to look at the details of this proposed deal, which could secure tens of millions of Government funding annually to support the local economy, invest in local businesses, drive innovation and help improve the lives of our residents.

“This proposed deal has been agreed with Government, and North Yorkshire County Council, but will ultimately be considered by all councillors at Full Council as to whether to hold a public consultation.”

Helen Simpson, chair of York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Devolution has the potential to unlock so many opportunities for our economy.

“This long-term investment will create significant economic opportunity and provides a chance to both address our challenges and realise the potential of York and North Yorkshire.”

Key areas of focus for the new mayoral combined authority would include unlocking additional investment for the region and supporting businesses as well as growing the economy and improving employment opportunities.

The combined authority would also oversee projects to build better digital and transport connections, along with providing more affordable housing and supporting action to reduce harmful carbon emissions.

Under terms of the proposed deal, the mayor will be supported by the transfer of key powers and investment from Whitehall. Key features include:

  • Control of a £540m investment fund in total over 30 years to drive growth and take forward local priorities over the longer term.
  • New powers to improve and better integrate local transport, including the ability to introduce bus franchising, and an integrated transport settlement starting in 2024/25.
  • Powers to better improve local skills to ensure these meet the needs of the local economy.
  • Over £13m for the building of new homes on brownfield land across 2023/24 and 2024/25.
  • £7m investment to enable York and North Yorkshire to drive green economic growth towards their ambitions to be a carbon negative region.

Councils representing the City of York and North Yorkshire will remain, working to deliver services to residents with the combined authority having the responsibility for an over-arching vision.

A submission to pursue a devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire was submitted to the Government in 2020, and formal negotiations began at the start of this year.