The signing at the National Railway Museum, coming as the county celebrates Yorkshire Day, marks “the return of powers and resources from London to much of the historic North Riding”, Mr Clark said.
Subject to ratification by councils and public backing, a new mayor would be elected in May 2024 leading a powerful combined authority (MCA) that would oversee strategic projects ranging from major transport improvements to providing more affordable housing.
Mr Clark said: “Levelling up – driving prosperity and opportunity in all parts of Britain – is done best when people locally can forge the future of their area. This deal is a big step in that direction”.
North Yorkshire County Council’s leader, Coun Carl Les, said the chance to secure significant decision-making powers as well as millions of pounds of investment was a “huge opportunity to shape the future of the county for many years to come”.
He said the plans would now go to the other councils for ratification and if agreed, the public would then be asked if they wanted a mayor.
Concerns have been expressed about the make-up of the MCA of two councillors each from York and North Yorkshire, with the Mayor and the non-voting chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership.
However Coun Les said he would be arguing that the MCA is the “right way forward because it fits the aspirations of the Government”.
He said: “An elected mayor representing both York and North Yorkshire would be a powerful figure to have a seat at the table for further negotiations with the Government, bringing real and tangible benefits to the region.”
City of York Council’s leader, Coun Keith Aspden, urged people to examine the detail of the deal which was a “significant milestone on the journey to secure devolution for York and North Yorkshire”.
He said devolution was “a real opportunity to secure significant investment and powers for York and North Yorkshire”, but the deal “has to be right for York”.
Over the coming months, he said, they will engage with the public to discuss the deal, agreed with the Government and county council. It will ultimately be considered by councillors at a full council meeting. If they give the go ahead, public consultation will follow.
Beckie Hart, CBI Regional Director, welcomed the plans. She said the mayor would be “charged with championing the region’s interests, both nationally and internationally, and delivering the long-term stability needed to drive business investment”.
A mayoral combined authority would mirror similar arrangements in areas like the Tees Valley and West Yorkshire.
The deal includes an extra "no strings attached" £18m-a-year from the Government totalling £540m over 30 years.
This should give more flexibility to the MCA to decide how best to spend money on key local priorities such as transport, affordable housing and bringing forward economic development sites.
There will be new powers to improve and better integrate local transport, including the ability to introduce bus franchising.
There will be over £22.6m to support the building of new homes on brownfield land, deliver affordable homes, and drive green economic growth.