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York and North Yorkshire devolution

York is currently a member of the York and North Yorkshire local enterprise partnership (LEP). We're also a non-constituent member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, meaning we can contribute as a member but can’t vote on all issues.

LEPs are voluntary business-led partnerships of local businesses, local authorities and other partners to promote economic growth across a 'functional economic geography'. LEPs can bid for funding from government through ‘Growth Deals’.

Combined Authorities are statutory bodies within which local authorities work together to deliver economic development, regeneration and transport functions. The idea is that if local authorities work together on these issues, they can work more effectively.

A key difference between LEPs and Combined Authorities is that as Combined Authorities are statutory bodies they can act as accountable bodies for funding from Government.


Devolution explained

We're working to begin the process of agreeing a York and North Yorkshire devolution proposal, to form a Combined Authority alongside:

A devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire could potentially unlock significant investment in the region, including:

  • investment in York’s transport infrastructure, like Haxby station
  • investment in low-carbon technologies
  • more affordable housing
  • funding to boost tourism
  • investment in major schemes, like York Central

English devolution is the transfer of power and funding associated with specific policy areas from the UK Government to sub-regional and local governments in England.

The devolution process means the transfer of powers, funding and decisions which would usually be taken by central government to a more local or regional level. The government has pledged that English devolution can be a means of ‘levelling up’ all parts of the country and reducing regional inequalities. 

English devolution deals focus on boosting local economic growth. Funding and powers are usually devolved to support a range of areas for potential growth in the combined authority area, such as:

  • transport
  • skills
  • housing
  • planning
  • general economic development programmes

Generally, each devolution deal includes a capital investment fund of hundreds of millions of pounds, which is paid in annual instalments over 3 decades. These funds can be used to finance transport, housing, and development projects.

Devolution from central government means that a region or sub-region has more powers and responsibilities than they have now, so that:

  • decisions can be made closer to the communities they affect
  • spending is focused on local priorities and to attract increased government investment
  • local services work more closely together and knowledge is combined to get better value for money 
  • the region becomes more self-sufficient and takes responsibility for its future
  • the different values, ambitions and identities of the region are considered and reflected in decisions taken

Find out how you can get involved in the York devolution discussion for York and North Yorkshire.

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How devolution works

Over the last 10 years, the government has progressed a number of ‘devolution deals’ in other English sub-regions, to transfer funding on specific policy areas, along with appropriate powers to partnerships of local authorities, known as ‘Combined Authorities’. These deals typically last for 30 years and can bring in significant local investment.

Areas that are seeking devolution must:

  • become part of a joint body (a ‘Combined Authority’) with other places where decisions about these matters would be taken
  • have a regional elected mayor who would work with councils through the Combined Authority to use the powers and resources gained through any deal

The elected mayor has access to devolved powers and resources and acts as an individual to unite and work across the region. The elected Mayor can be held to account for decisions made on a regional level.

Examples of devolution deals include Liverpool, Manchester and the West Midlands who have elected Mayors.

The current office of Lord Mayor of York is a ceremonial role which applies only to the City of York local authority area. The Government would create through legislation a new post of a regional mayor for the devolved area.

There are already decisions which are taken at a local level (for example, through councils like City of York Council), regionally (through Combined Authorities working with Local Enterprise Partnerships) and nationally by the Government. Devolution would primarily be about strengthening regional arrangements, with greater democratic accountability and powers to take decisions which are currently made in London.

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Devolution for York and North Yorkshire

As a region, we've been discussing devolution for many years, and in 2018 leaders across Yorkshire committed to developing a joined-up deal for One Yorkshire Devolution.

The UK government responded to this, making clear they would first prefer smaller devolved deals which focused on populations which shared similar economic challenges.

Since then, devolution deals have been agreed for South Yorkshire and, in March this year, a deal was agreed for West Yorkshire.

York is working together with the other local authorities to negotiate with the government towards a devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire. Discussions have taken place between all these councils to agree and set out a range of proposals to the government.

At the moment the government in London makes the majority of decisions about what happens here in Yorkshire, and about what happens to you at a local level.

Some decisions, such as those about foreign policy and defence, need to be made by central Government alone. However, with devolution, many other decisions, such as running and investing in our public transport, education and skills and providing support for our regional and local businesses, could be made by elected representatives from your region who are part of the community living and working in York and North Yorkshire.

This means that your local government, which has a clear understanding of the priorities and issues of your region, would have the power to make strategic financial and economic decisions to best benefit you and the local area.

Decisions about local council services will continue to be taken at a York level.

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Agreeing a deal for York

To reach a devolution deal which York was part of, there would first need to be agreement between all relevant local authority areas and Central Government about:

  • which powers and responsibilities would be devolved
  • which areas, and which local authorities, the deal would and wouldn’t cover
  • how these new arrangements would be governed

Once an in-principle agreement had been reached between government and the proposed devolution area, there would then be a process of setting up new arrangements ahead of the new powers and responsibilities being in place.

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Our Asks

A devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire could potentially unlock significant investment over 30 years, with a focus on improving the economic prosperity and future long term opportunities for all residents. Under these proposals York would receive a proportion of this investment across a range of programmes, with specific funding requested for the following areas.

Infrastructure and Place

A £64 million York Place Fund, to lead regeneration and cultural activity projects across the city, including:

  • £14 million to support the delivery of the York Station Front project
  • £10 million of funding to deliver York Riverside Walkway
  • £28 million to deliver Phase 1 of York Castle Museum’s Castle Capital Project
  • £8 million to support the delivery of Castle Gateway
  • £3 million to support the implementation of York’s Cultural Strategy
  • £1 million of funding to transform secondary shopping areas
  • Seeking to work with Government to develop proposals to relocate a significant Civil Service or parliamentary presence to the York Central site

Innovation

£175 million to develop an innovation ecosystem connecting academia, industry and policy makers (known as Bio-Yorkshire), with a further £3 million for bio-tech incubator hubs and £15 million for a bio-tech innovation accelerator to bring visibility to Bio-Yorkshire as a global centre of excellence.

Tourism

Co-development of a tourism plan between York and North Yorkshire, and Visit Britain with joint investment in future.

Housing

Unlocking and delivering a proportion of 20,000 homes, working with the MOD, and a share of a £96 million Strategic Housing Investment Package including affordable homes on council sites such as York Central.

Skills and Adult Learning

£10 million low carbon skills programme to up-skill the existing workforce in low carbon industries together with a devolved Adult Education budget.

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How we're working towards devolution

Throughout July 2020 meetings will take place at each council to formally agree to begin the process of negotiating a devolution deal with government by agreeing to the proposals, or ‘asks’, they collectively drew up.

The Council’s Executive will discuss a proposal regarding York’s ‘asks’ of Government at a meeting of the Executive on 23 July, in order to agree the ‘asks’ before they are sent to the Government for consideration, as has been published on the Council’s Forward Plan. The ‘asks’ documents relating to this meeting will be published on 15 July.

The submitted proposals would be considered by government over the following months. If agreed, a series of further steps would be taken over the next 12 to 18 months including local consultation with residents and other stakeholders with a view to Mayoral elections taking place in May 2022.

If conversations between the Councils and Government progress well, a governance review will be required to take place, including a full consultation, which will provide residents and businesses a full opportunity to comment before decisions are made at Executive and then, Full Council.

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Get involved in the York Devolution

Given the potential scale of funding that a devolution deal could unlock for York, we're encouraging residents and local organisations to have their say on the first steps of a potential devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire, through Our Big Conversation.

After the submission of the 'asks', there will be a significant city-wide consultation with residents, communities and businesses, and a further governance review will take place, if the asks are agreed by government.

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