A new Mayor will be elected on 2 May 2024 and the combined authority will have £540m to invest in the regeneration of the region under a devolution deal signed with the Government in August 2022. In this article Jonathan Branton and Alexander Rose explain the opportunities that the new Combined Authority will create.
Devolution is a core element of the levelling up agenda, whereby funds and powers will be transferred from Westminster into local control. This is the case in North Yorkshire, where key elements of regeneration will now be taken forward by the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority ("YNYCA"). This follows similar progress in other parts of the country including Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire for whom similar announcements are anticipated in due course.
What powers and funding will YNYCA have?
Under the 'York and North Yorkshire devolution deal' the Combined Authority will benefit from the York and North Yorkshire Investment Fund worth £540m (£18m per year over 30 years). This will be complemented by:
- new powers to improve local transport, including the ability to introduce bus franchising;
- an integrated transport settlement starting in 2024/25 and an additional £800,000 to support the development of local transport plans;
- new powers to shape local skills provision, including devolution of the core Adult Education Budget, as well as input into the new Local Skills Improvement Plans;
- new powers to drive the regeneration of the area and to build more affordable homes including compulsory purchase powers and the ability to establish Mayoral Development Corporations;
- £13 million for the building of new homes on brownfield land across 2023/24 and 2024/25;
- investment of up to £2.65 million on projects that support York and North Yorkshire’s priority to deliver affordable, low carbon homes;
- investment of up to £50 million for the York Central brownfield regeneration scheme; and
- £7 million investment to enable York and North Yorkshire to drive green economic growth towards their ambitions to be a carbon negative region.
A new mayor
The election for the new mayor will take place on the 2nd May 2024 (the same day local elections are due to be held in some other areas of the UK). The candidates who have announced they plan to stand include:
- David Skaith, Labour. Skaith is a business figure and previous Chair of York High Street Forum;
- Keane Duncan, Conservative. Duncan is currently the executive member for highways and transportation on North Yorkshire Council;
- Kevin Foster, Greens. Foster currently represents the Hipswell and Colburn division on North Yorkshire Council; and
- Keith Tordoff, Independent. Tordoff previously stood as an independent candidate in the 2021 North Yorkshire Police Fire Crime Commissioner elections.
The Liberal Democrats are yet to announce a candidate, but are expected to do so in the coming weeks.
The establishment of YNYCA and the election of a mayor for the region will be the next big step for devolution in the York and North Yorkshire. It is also a big step forward for Whitehall in its aim to grant a devolution deal to every part of England that wants a devolution deal by 2030.
More information on the creation of YNYCA can be found here.
Two years after the launch of the Levelling Up White Paper, significant steps are being taken to transfer public funds and powers from Whitehall into new local government bodies. North Yorkshire is now taking the exciting step into having a Combined Authority, with a significant funding package to support a series of new developments in the county as a result. This should be celebrated and hopefully opens the door to further devolution in the future.