The new authority could be operational in January. Credit: North Yorks/York councils

Devolution deal on track for early 2024

York and North Yorkshire’s devolution order has been laid in Parliament, with MPs expected to consider the matter before Christmas.

Should all go to plan, a new combined authority could be operational in January or February, with the election to appoint a Mayor being held in May.

The deal is expected to bring in investment of more than £540m over the next 30 years, the respective councils said.

Announced in August 2022 and consulted on over an eight-week period locally, the combined authority would have more decision-making powers over local issues, such as adult education, transport, infrastructure, skills, jobs and housing.

Among projects already theoretically securing cash are the 23 net-zero projects promised a total £7m across the two areas last month.

Key features include:

  • Control of a £540m investment fund in total over 30 years to drive growth and take forward local priorities over the longer term, giving the mayor and local constituent councils more flexibility to decide how best to spend money on key local priorities.
  • New powers to improve and better integrate local transport, including the ability to introduce bus franchising, and an integrated transport settlement starting in 2024/25.
  • Powers to better improve local skills to ensure these meet the needs of the local economy. This will include devolution of adult education functions and the core adult education budget and contribute to the local skills improvement plan.
  • More than £13m for the building of new homes on brownfield land across 2023/24 and 2024/25, subject to sufficient eligible projects for funding being identified.
  • £7m investment to enable York and North Yorkshire to drive green economic growth towards their ambitions to be a carbon negative region. Allocations of which have been agreed at last month’s York and North Yorkshire joint devolution committee meeting.
  • 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 take on role and functions of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
  • Integration of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership into York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority. This will ensure there continues to be a strong and independent local business voice which informs local decision-making.

North Yorkshire Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, said: “The prospect of bringing more decision-making powers and millions of pounds in additional funding from the Government will bring real and tangible benefits for hundreds of thousands of people in York and North Yorkshire.

“Devolution is about ensuring levelling up becomes a reality, tackling regional inequalities and bringing the prospect for more equal opportunities with better job opportunities and improved skills and training, more affordable housing and tackling the threat of climate change.”

Cllr Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council, said: “Devolution and the creation of the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority presents a huge opportunity for our region. City of York Council committed, in our four-year council plan, to working in partnership to maximise the opportunities arising from devolution and we can’t wait to get started. The laying of the draft order is another key milestone as we work towards establishing the new combined authority.”

The York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority Order 2023 is a legal document which sets out the powers available to the incoming mayor and combined authority to deliver the content of the devolution deal.

James Farrar, interim director of transition for the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, added: “Subject to progress, a new combined authority could be operational in January and formally launched in February. A mayoral election would take place on 2nd May 2024.”

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