York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority launched today
Last updated Feb 1, 2024

A launch event for the of the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority took place at the Guildhall in York today. We were there — here’s what was revealed about the new authority and the mayor who will lead it.

  • A combined authority is where a group of councils work together across a larger area.
  • It will be led by an elected mayor, with elections taking place on 2 May.
  • The mayor will lead investment of £540 million over 30 years.

11.45am: Launch event draws to close

Today’s event is ending. We leave you with photos of two of today’s speakers — Cllr Claire Douglas, leader of City of York Council and Levelling Up minister Jacob Young, who gave a short video address.

The mayoral election is 91 days away. So far the Conservatives, Labour, the Greens and an Independent have put candidates forward.

The new branding

11.40am: How will the combined authority work?

Whoever is elected mayor on May 2 will chair the combined authority board. The board will also include:

  • two councillors from City of York Council
  • two councillors from North Yorkshire Council
  • the chair of the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority Business Committee – this is an advisory role and not a voting member.

11.31am: Combined authority website launched

A website launched today for the new organisation. You can see it here.

11.14am: Harrogate College welcomes change

Danny Wild (pictured above), the principal of Harrogate College, is at the launch. There is provision for adult skills in the gainshare budget — gainshare is the buzzword for new money from central government as part of the devolution deal. Mr Wild said:

“The combined authority gives us a real opportunity to address some of the adult skills challenges we have across North Yorkshire.”

He added conversations were already taking place on how the funding would be allocated and welcomed the fact that decisions previously taken in Westminster were now happening at sub-regional level.

He said this would lead to a more flexible and targeted approach to adult education.

10.55am: How will the money be spent?

The mayoral investment fund is worth £540 million spread over 30 years.

From launch to March 2025, the new combined authority will receive £56 million, which includes £12.7 million for housing to build 700 new homes on brownfield sites, £10 million to support transition to net zero, unlocking economic opportunity, empowering business growth and creating jobs. An adult education budget will also be devolved to York and North Yorkshire.

10.47am: Mayor’s role outlined

Whoever is elected mayor on May 2 will take up the role on May 7. The salary has not been revealed yet. His or her roles (although only four men have declared they will stand so far) will include:

  • Responsibility for 30-year mayoral investment fund and the powers to borrow against funds
  • Full devolution of the adult education budget
  • Powers to improve the supply and quality of housing and secure the development of land or infrastructure
  • Responsibilities for community safety and the powers to appoint a Deputy Mayor to carry out many of the duties currently held by police, fire and crime commissioner Zoe Metcalfe
  • Powers and funds to improve transport through a consolidated, devolved, multi-year transport settlement.

10.39am: Combined authority will be based in York and Northallerton

Now the speeches are over, some interesting details are emerging in the media briefing notes.

The combined authority, which will employ 54 staff, will use offices in York (West Offices, Station Rise) and Northallerton (County Hall).  The Mayor will work from both offices.

10.28am: ‘Region before politics’

Cllr Claire Douglas, the Labour leader of City of York Council continues the heady rhetoric. The word ‘momentous’ is being used a lot.

Cllr Douglas describes the deal as “absolutely fantastic, a historic milestone for our region” and says it is a case of “region before politics”, which reflects how the Labour Council she leads will work alongside the Conservative one in North Yorkshire.

10.21am:  ‘First truly rural and city deal’

Richard Flinton, the chief executive of North Yorkshire Council, is standing in for Conservative council leader Cllr Carl Les, who he says is stuck in traffic on the A19.

Mr Flinton says it’s a “strong deal” that will open up more conversations with government. He adds:

“It’s the first truly rural and city deal binging together the largest county with cities like York and binding us together.”

10.15am:  Minister gives video speech

Levelling Up minister Jacob Young gives a short video address in which he talks about transferring power to “god’s own county”.

10.10am: ‘Momentous day’

James Farrar, the interim head of paid services for the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, gets things underway by saying it’s a “pretty momentous day”.

Mr Farrar, who lives near Harrogate, says North Yorkshire has “joined the Premier League for ambition” and says achieving a devolution deal “required political leadership to get us where we are today”.

He adds “half a billion pounds of investment comes along with the mayor”, which will be spent in areas such as transport, adult skills, housing and net zero.

“This is new money we wouldn’t otherwise get so this is quite a moment in time. Public sector finances are under incredible pressure and this is a chance to show real ambition.”

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