Devolution for county comes a step closer

A major step towards securing more decision-making powers and millions of pounds in funding from the Government will ensure wide-ranging benefits for hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses become a reality, council leader has said.

A legal order for York and North Yorkshire has now been laid in Parliament, marking another step towards a devolution deal becoming law in early 2024.

The deal will bring investment of more than £540 million over the next 30 years to the region.

Devolution is a key policy of the Government, handing decision-making powers to local political leaders and providing millions of pounds to shape major policies and projects on a regional level.

York and North Yorkshire councils and a new combined authority led by an elected mayor will have more decision-making powers over issues such as adult education, transport, skills, jobs and housing.

The 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.

“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. The new combined authority will be a driving force behind the devolution process, overseeing major strategic projects and how funding will be allocated, and working closely with both North Yorkshire Council and City of York Council.”

Work is already under way to maximise the impact of the deal, and £7 million was allocated last month to 23 net zero schemes, funding that will be received should the combined authority be approved by Parliament.

Alongside carbon reduction, funding will create a pipeline of net zero projects that will drive economic growth, create jobs, reduce energy costs for businesses and leverage further investment.

The York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority Order 2023 sets out the powers available to the incoming mayor and the combined authority. Public consultation on the deal ran for eight weeks at the end of last year. Results were published in February and showed widespread support.

MPs are expected to consider the draft order before Christmas.