Calls for devolution deal for North Yorkshire as county faces up to huge overhaul in its political world

Political leaders have claimed that a long-awaited devolution deal for North Yorkshire must be fully realised to help provide a key facet in the nation’s economy.

The view across the Vale of York from the top of Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire. The county is due to undergo a major reorganisation of local government to pave the way for a long-awaited devolution deal. (Photo: James Hardisty)

The biggest overhaul of local government in the county in almost half a century was announced last month by the Government to pave the way for a devolution deal.

Ministers had stipulated that a key requirement of any move to shift decision-making and spending powers to North Yorkshire was for the current two-tier system of governance to be replaced by a single over-arching unitary authority.

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However, the new “super council” will not be in place until the spring of 2023 at the earliest, prompting fears that North Yorkshire will fall further behind other areas of the North which already have devolution deals in place.

North Yorkshire County Council’s leader, Coun Carl Les, told The Yorkshire Post that negotiations with the Government for a devolution deal are set to begin in earnest at the end of this month.

A letter is also being sent to the Neil O'Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough in Leicestershire who has been tasked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to oversee the levelling up agenda, to state the case for a devolution deal for North Yorkshire as soon as possible.

Coun Les said: “Devolution has been on my agenda since I became the leader of the council six years ago.

“I have been frustrated by the lack of progress at times, but now we have the go-ahead for the reorganisation of local government, we must ensure we get a devolution deal at the earliest opportunity.”

The need for devolved powers is seen as a vital step towards achieving an ambition for a carbon negative economy in North Yorkshire, which is set to develop a host of new supply chains, potential business growth in the green sector as well as inward investment.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick revealed last month that the chosen option was for a new single council structure proposed by North Yorkshire County Council over a rival bid brought by the seven district councils for two authorities split on a east/west basis.

Under the plans, York Council will remain as a unitary council.

The leader of Selby District Council, Coun Mark Crane, stressed he supported a devolution deal, but questioned the merits of introducing a metro mayor to oversee just two authorities.

He said: “Other metro mayors have responsibility for overseeing far more local authorities, and I am not sure another level of bureaucracy is needed in North Yorkshire when decisions could be taken by the leaders of York and the new unitary authority.

“However, I am fully supportive of devolved powers for North Yorkshire, and we need to ensure that a deal is put in place at the earliest opportunity possible.”