A combined authority for North Yorkshire and York could be created by 2023, according to a report.
Combined authorities bring together multiple councils to make joint decisions. Under devolution, they are chaired by a directly-elected mayor.
Ten have been created so far, including Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Tees Valley, whose respective mayors are Andy Burnham, Tracy Brabin and Ben Houchen.
A report by York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership reveals that informal talks with government had indicated the county’s first mayoral elections could be expected in May 2024 and a combined authority could be created during the 2022/23 financial year.
It says that creating a combined authority “as soon as practically possible” would position York and North Yorkshire for a share of the government’s post-Brexit UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces EU structural funds and aims to reduce inequalities.
According to the report, other potential benefits of launching a combined authority before 2024 include developing investment projects, making them ready for approval when the mayor is elected.
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It comes as local authority leaders are to consider revising their requests from government as part of a devolution deal for North Yorkshire and York.
‘Devolution is a key part of levelling up’
Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said there would be no point in putting forward propositions that have not got a chance of success because they did not meet government criteria.
“I think it makes imminent sense to make sure we are aligned to the latest government thinking on their investment priorities and also to identify where there are existing funding streams that we may want to tie into, like Bus Back Better, rather than negotiate with the Treasury directly for bus infrastructure funding.
“We need to be getting on with things, especially following Boris Johnson’s conference speech, as devolution is a key part of levelling up.”
Meanwhile, the paper calls for the introduction of an ask to stimulate town centre development, including Enterprise Zone-type tax relief.
The report says:
“We will work together across local authorities, the LEP, Historic England and Homes England in a groundbreaking way to deliver an innovative transformation programme at scale across our town and city centres.
“This will bring historic and under-utilised buildings and spaces back into productive use, help to remodel and revitalise our town and city centres, and provide the flexibility for local priorities to come to the fore.”