Businesses have adapted, networks have grown and heroes on the frontline have played a vital role in co-ordinating the efforts to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Some of these acts of heroism were rewarded in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Saturday.
It is in this selfless spirit of generosity, from local people and volunteers, that the social fabric of our communities come to life.
The Government has been working tirelessly to support communities across Yorkshire as they respond and recover from the pandemic.
National and local government will need to work more closely than ever in the months ahead as the number of cases of Covid-19 rises, especially in some parts of the North.
Thanks to magnificent efforts, local councils across York and North Yorkshire have been able to make peoples’ lives much easier and have issued government grants of nearly £269m to more than 22,000 small and medium-sized businesses across the region.
The Yorkshire Post has a proud tradition of representing this great county and making sure that politicians in Westminster take note of the issues that matter to people in Yorkshire.
Indeed, this paper has long campaigned for more powers to be retained in Yorkshire, made by local people for local people.
And as Communities Secretary, I am determined to do all I can to help local government deliver more results and communities to thrive.
Through the right reforms, local leaders can make better decisions to improve service delivery, provide taxpayers with greater value for money and establish more sustainable and accountable local institutions.
Experience shows that any reform of local government is most effectively achieved through proposals put forward by those who best know the area.
Local councils have been developing ideas about restructuring local government for some time, and I am announcing that a number of councils – including North Yorkshire and York – can proceed and submit locally-led proposals for unitary local government.
It is now for the councils to send me any proposals they wish to make – and I look forward to seeing these in the weeks ahead. This invitation marks an opportunity to support further localism in action and opens the way for more money, more power and more investment for local leaders, with better public services and infrastructure.
This Government is committed to unleashing the full potential of Britain and meeting its manifesto ambition for full devolution across England, and we want to empower local people to drive change.
As Secretary of State, I am determined to deliver on our promise to level up the country, and to help revive our cities and towns, with localism at the very heart of our mission.
When it comes to devolution, we’ll be building on what we know works.
That means empowering councils to lead the economic recovery and ensuring they play a fulsome role in health and education in local communities.
And strengthening local leadership institutions in Yorkshire and other counties to be the drivers of future prosperity.
We are also facilitating local government reorganisation where there is local demand, and more mayors where local communities want them, driving growth across economic areas.
But, to be clear, the Government will not impose the top down restructuring of local government. That’s not my way. Nor will we impose a mayoral model if local people feel that’s out of character with the nature of local life.
The approach to devolution is – and always has been – locally led. It is for councils in an area to develop proposals which benefit from local support.
My approach will continue to be to facilitate locally led reform across the country – be it unitarisation or other reforms – and to issue invitations where there is strong local support to do so.
As a long-time admirer of all things Yorkshire, representing a constituency just to your south, I know the county as one of enormous potential, and this Government will work hand in hand with local leaders to make sure that it is fully realised.
Robert Jenrick MP is Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
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