£2 billion devolution negotiations kickstart as councils submit proposals


Last updated Jan 17, 2021
North Yorkshire County Council offices.
North Yorkshire councils have submitted £2.4 billion worth of devolution proposals.

North Yorkshire and York council leaders have kick-started negotiations over a £2.4 billion devolution deal with government after submitting proposals.

Authority bosses in the county have formally tabled a list of “asks” to government which outline billions of pounds worth of spending power in areas like transport, housing and skills.

The deal, should it be agreed, would also see a directly elected mayor for the county.

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, told the Stray Ferret that council leaders agreed to submit the requests, but without support from Hambleton District Council.

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Hambleton had previously refused to support the proposals until a government white paper on devolution was published. However, the paper has yet to be published by ministers.

But, Cllr Les said councils could not longer delay submitting the proposals.

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, who has ruled himself out of being a future Mayor of North Yorkshire.

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council. Picture: North Yorkshire County Council.

He said:

“The leaders decided that they were going to submit without unanimous agreement.

“Every day we delay on the asks, we delay on the negotiations of the asks. It would have been better with an unanimous decision, but it was best we got a majority.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the government was considering the proposals and would respond “in due course”.

The “asks” document is intended to start negotiations with government over what the county wants from a devolution deal. It is separate from the proposals for local government reorganisation and how the new authority or authorities would be structured.

It comes as ministers made it a requirement for councils who want devolved powers to scrap the two tier system in their areas.

£2 billion in spending power

Following initial discussions with ministers in in early 2020, council bosses have written up a 140-page document which outlines £2.4 billion worth of spending and proposals to take back further powers from Westminster.

More powers over transport, skills, regeneration and energy are included in the submission, as well as a mayoral funding pot worth £750 million over 25 years.

Further funding proposals include a five-year transport settlement worth £250 million, £520 million of devolved funding for fibre connectivity, and a £230 million fund for the new mayor to share between the county’s towns.

A directly elected mayor, who would have powers over areas such as transport planning, transport budget and bus franchising, is also included in the proposals.

What happens now?

Council leaders will now discuss the proposals for more spending and powers with ministers from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury.

A deal will then be put forward by the government at a later date. This will go back before councils to be agreed.

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