North Yorkshire devolution deal could be done by summer
May 11, 2022
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A devolution deal for North Yorkshire that includes a directly elected mayor could be reached by summer, according to the leader of the county council.

County council officials have met with senior civil servants after the government included a deal for the county as part of its levelling up white paper in February.

Cllr Carl Les, Conservative leader of North Yorkshire County Council, and Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat leader of City of York Council, have also met with ministers to discuss devolution in North Yorkshire and York.

Council officials submitted a list of requests for devolved powers to government in December 2020 but negotiations were delayed by covid and the publication of the levelling up white paper.

In a statement to a full council meeting next week, Cllr Les will say that it is possible a deal could be reached by the parliamentary summer recess in July.

He says:

“What is clear is that all asks will need to be negotiated with vigour – the principle of devolution has been agreed, there is no automatic right of passage.

“Myself and the leader of City of York Council have had a first meeting with the responsible minister where he observed that we were first in the queue and he hoped we would maintain that position.

“There is a possibility that a deal can be done before the parliamentary summer recess.”

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Ministers made it a requirement that a unitary council for North Yorkshire be established before any negotiations about a devolution deal could proceed. Last week’s elections for the new North Yorkshire Council brought that to fruition.

In December 2020, council bosses submitted to government a 140-page document which outlined £2.4 billion worth of spending and proposals to take back further powers from Westminster.

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

Richard Flinton, chief executive of the county council, said previously that the timetable for devolution negotiations could see an elected mayor in place by May 2024.

The mayor could have powers over areas such as transport and economic development. They could also take on the role as police and crime commissioner.

The negotiations come as the Conservatives retained control on the county council following the local elections last week, but with a smaller majority.

Speaking to the Stray Ferret, Cllr Les said he was willing to work with any party over the issue of devolution and local government reorganisation.

He said:

“It has always been my policy in the county council to reach out to other groups and to talk with them.

“I will continue to do that.”