Regions such as Manchester and the West Midlands were able to elect their mayors relatively quickly. But in Yorkshire the process was far less straightforward. With deals and mayors now in place for both South and West Yorkshire the attention now turns to North Yorkshire, where once again the nature of how devolution will take place has been the subject of some considerable debate.
However, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. As The Yorkshire Post reveals today, council bosses are confident that a deal for England’s largest county could be agreed by the summer.
This is not before time. For all its strength as a tourism and food- producing region, it faces substantial issues around housing, transport, digital connectivity and sustainability.
Devolution can help work on these issues and under the proper leadership North Yorkshire can quickly become one of the most desirable places to live in the nation, one that offers high-paid jobs and affordable housing – all the while surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in Europe.
What is key now is that model works for the whole region, from the cities of York and Ripon, to the market towns, coastal communities and the vast swathes of rural dwellings that dot the landscape.
It is the latter that could well end up deciding who it is that runs North Yorkshire. The fact that the Tories barely held onto control of North Yorkshire County Council in last week’s elections is a sign that the party is in danger of losing its traditional heartland in the countryside, a fact that Tory York Outer MP Julian Sturdy makes in today’s newspaper.
If the party continues to take the countryside for granted then it could well be that it is not the Tories who get to make North Yorkshire the success story it deserves to be.