North Yorkshire 'won't have a metro mayor imposed by government' as part of devolution deal, says Robert Jenrick

North Yorkshire will not have an elected 'metro mayor' imposed on it as part of the devolution process and the shake-up of local government in the county, according to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Writing in The Yorkshire Post today, Mr Jenrick says the mayoral model used in areas such as South Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and Greater Manchester will not be forced on the area "if local people feel that’s out of character with the nature of local life".

But political leaders in North Yorkshire, who last week were invited to submit proposals for a local government reorganisation, believe they may not get the full benefits of devolution if they do not accept a metro mayor.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Read More

Read More
Risk levels for Yorkshire revealed after Prime Minister sets out new system for ...

And when asked by The Yorkshire Post, the Government was unable to say if having a metro mayor was a condition for getting full devolution. A spokeswoman said more details would be published in the Devolution White Paper, which was due to be published last month but will not come out until next year.

Mr Jenrick writes today that as part of his government's attempts to 'level up' the country, it is "facilitating local government reorganisation where there is local demand, and more mayors where local communities want them, driving growth across economic areas".

He said: "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.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick. Pic: PA

"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."

North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les said that it was "no secret that the Government works well when it has a single elected contact, a single elected mayor to work with".

His authority is continuing to work on proposals for a single unitary authority to replace the current two-tier system, as county officials believe areas with such an arrangement are less likely to be granted full devolved powers.

Meanwhile district and borough leaders, with the help of consultants KPMG, are drawing up a case for the creation of two unitary authorities; with Craven, Harrogate, Richmondshire and Hambleton in the west, and Selby, City of York, Ryedale and Scarborough in the east.

Nick Stafford Chairman of Hambleton Ales at Melmerby near Ripon. Pic: Gary Longbottom

Richmondshire leader Angie Dale said: “Our model will enable service delivery improvement across the whole of the City of York and North Yorkshire, whilst minimising disruption to key services, especially for vulnerable groups and safeguarding.

"Our model will enable existing partnership working to grow and strengthen, to promote strong, safe, inclusive and healthy communities.

“We recognise how important devolution is to the region and the east/west model is the strongest approach to achieve a balanced combined authority with an elected mayor."

Nick Stafford, chairman and founder of Hambleton Brewery, an award-winning exporter, said "the arguments for restructuring local government were won before Covid-19".

He added: "Therefore, to recover the local economy we need to act now – not to persist with a ‘zombie’ structure. The method of delivery of funds is almost more important than the funds themselves.

"A single unitary authority accountable for public funds, but delivery being the responsibility of people at local district level, inspires individuals to engage in opportunities with confidence of support from our regional political leaders. Clarity of purpose is vital for commitment to engagement.”