North Yorkshire devolution awaits Parliamentary order

North Yorkshire devolution – and the creation of a new combined authority for the county – is now awaiting a Parliamentary order to advance to the next step.

York and North Yorkshire LEP chief operating officer James Farrar, appointed as interim director of transition in the run up to devolution, said timetables were shifting to align with anticipated government process.

Farrar was appointed at a closed session during the last joint devolution committee meeting, made up of senior members of the North Yorkshire and City of York councils, in July.

He said in a statement today, “I am working closely with colleagues from both councils, the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. 

“We are all committed to a smooth transition into a new combined authority, ensuring that we all continue to deliver our services to the public without any interruption. Together, we will ensure it is an organisation that is ready to hit the ground running as soon as a mayor is elected. 

“We are all working with Government to secure the next step of laying of an order before parliament later this year. We are shifting our timetables in line with anticipated government process. The joint committee will next meet on 23 October to make key investment decisions relating to new housing on brownfield land and investment in delivering a net zero region.

“Devolution presents a huge opportunity for York and North Yorkshire and we’re working as hard as we can to ensure that the new combined authority is up and ready to deliver under the leadership of a mayor.”

A £540m devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire was signed in August 2022. An order deciding how powers and funding will be transferred from Westminster to the region is expected this autumn. Its approval will allow the formal creation of the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, and mayoral elections in May 2024. The Conservative Party selected North Yorkshire councillor Keane Duncan as its mayoral candidate in July.

The mayor will work collectively with the leaders of City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council.  Together, they will make decisions on investments in strategic priorities such as for transport, housing, and adult education.

The mayor will also have responsibilities for community safety and will be the directly elected individual with strategic responsibility for the totality of policing, fire and crime for York and North Yorkshire. They will appoint a deputy mayor to carry out many of the powers and duties of the role currently known as police, fire and crime commissioner.

The proposed devolution deal includes a £7m investment to drive green economic growth towards the ambition of York and North Yorkshire becoming the country’s first carbon negative region, which means more carbon dioxide emissions would be removed from the atmosphere than are emitted. 

There is also proposed investment of up to £2.65m to deliver affordable low-carbon housing, and £13m for the building of new homes on brownfield land during 2023/24 and 2024/25.

North Yorkshire Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, said, “Devolution is a long-held ambition for York and North Yorkshire, and will provide a host of benefits for hundreds of thousands of people. 

“James has a great deal of experience and will be key in delivering the benefits of devolution and ensuring the combined authority runs as efficiently as possible, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him closely at what is such an important time for York and North Yorkshire.”

Councillor Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council said, “Devolution presents a significant opportunity for York and North Yorkshire and one we are keen to make the most of. 

“We are focussed on making devolution a success for the people and businesses of York and North Yorkshire. With the potential for increased investment in the region and new opportunities in terms of transport, tackling the climate emergency, providing affordable housing and growing the economy there is much work to do.