Today, Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark is to sign a historic deal that will grant more power to Yorkshire communities and considerable government investment.
As promised in the Levelling Up White Paper, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is to sign over greater powers to a newly created combined authority. A directly elected mayor will take control of the new powers, allowing local leaders to make better decisions and address the specific needs within the region.
With the county celebrating Yorkshire Day, half a billion pounds will be allocated from central government to York and North Yorkshire which can be invested according to priorities decided by local leaders. The mayor will have the power to invest money into transport, housing, and education, with money being spread over the course of the next 30 years.
Greg Clarke, Levelling Up Secretary, said:
“Yorkshire Day 2022 is a historic one. It marks the return of powers and resources from London to much of the historic North Riding.
“Levelling up – driving prosperity and opportunity in all parts of Britain – is done best when people locally can forge the future of their area. This deal is a big step in that direction.”
With greater powers to the mayor, the key features of their role will include:
- Controlling the £540 million investment fund that will be allocated over the course of 30 years. This will be done to drive growth and push local priorities over the long term, giving the mayor and local constituent councils more flexibility to decide when they will spend money on local priorities. This will also contribute to economic measure such as skills development and the supporting of small and medium-sized businesses.
- The power to improve and better integrate local transport. This will include the ability to introduce bus franchising, and an integrated transport settlement beginning in 2024/25.
- The power to improve local skills to ensure that the needs of the local economy are met. Devolution of Adult Education functions and the core Adult Education Budget will be included in this, whilst contributing to the Local Skills Improvement Plan.
- More than £22.6 million will support the construction of new homes on brownfield land, deliver affordable homes, as well as driving green economic growth across York and North Yorkshire.
- Powers to drive the regeneration of the area and to build more affordable, more beautiful homes, including compulsory purchase powers and the ability to establish Mayoral Development Corporations.
- The mayor will also take on the role and functions of the Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner.
Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Cllr Carl Les, said:
“The chance to secure a host of decision-making powers as well as bringing in millions of pounds of investment for North Yorkshire is a huge opportunity to shape the future of the county for many years to come.
“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 deal will enable us to take far greater control of our own destinies.
“An elected mayor representing both York and North Yorkshire would be a powerful figure to have a seat at the table for further negotiations with the government, bringing real and tangible benefits to the region.”
Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, added:
“This proposed deal 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.
“Devolution represents a real opportunity to secure significant investment a real opportunity to secure significant investment and powers of York and North Yorkshire, from progressing crucial work on BioYorkshire, delivering York Central, or helping us become England’s first carbon negative region.
“This proposed deal could unlock 30 years of investment to improve economic prosperity and long-term opportunities for all of our residents and businesses.”
Through 16 town councils, over £392m is being invested by the government to help regenerate towns across Yorkshire, as well as over £68m to renew and reshape Yorkshire’s town centres and high streets, including Barnsley, Halifax, and North Allerton.
The deal is set to be signed by Greg Clarke, leaders of North Yorkshire County Council, and the City of York today.