Business leaders in North Yorkshire urged to back devolution bid and help net £2.4 billion investment cash

Business leaders in North Yorkshire are being urged to back the county’s bid for a new single council and help bring in new investment in infrastructure worth up to £2.4bn.

Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 9:02 am
Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council

York and North Yorkshire County Council are working on a devolution deal to take control of funds and powers from central government to accelerate the recovery from the pandemic and create new growth opportunities for businesses.

They have approved plans to invest £540m in fibre connectivity, £390m in transport links, £290m in market town centres, £215m in the bio-economy, £95m on housing, £50m on green energy and £10m in skills across the county over the coming years.

The new single council proposals will also save significantly more than £25m a year in bureaucracy costs by scrapping the current two-tier structure of local government which has seven district councils and a county council. These would be replaced by a single, mayor-led stronger authority with enhanced local accountability and the strongest possible voice at a national level.

York and North Yorkshire County Council’s vision aims to create the UK’s first carbon negative region in which people reach their full potential, earn higher wages and lead healthier lives. It sees high quality connections as fundamental to future prosperity by attracting businesses, helping companies expand and enabling people to work flexibly.

While preserving the integrity of the City of York, the new unitary authority would focus on delivering transformational projects to upgrade communications and transport infrastructure within the county and with the wider region and rest of the world. It would have full responsibility for planning, economic development, highways, housing, trading standards and other essential services – joining up the support businesses need and supported by local level delivery.

Other areas to adopt a similar approach have succeeded in securing billions of pounds of investment from central government including neighbouring Tees Valley and West Yorkshire.

Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “North Yorkshire has a vibrant and diverse business community with international strengths in the bio-economy, technology, manufacturing and tourism sectors.

“This devolution deal will back companies of all sizes with new investment of up to £2.4bn in the infrastructure they need to grow and prosper, but the time is now – devolution must not be delayed. The cost of any delay could be extremely significant.

“Our proposals simplify and strengthen local government, save unnecessary spending, bring stability and give us the size and scale to succeed. We urge businesses to back our bid, which we believe will offer you the best prospects of lasting economic recovery and growth.”

North Yorkshire County Council is inviting business leaders to lend their support by writing to the minister for regional growth and local government, Simon Clarke, at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Businesses can find out more by joining a webinar on September 10. The webinar will provide an overview of the York and North Yorkshire devolution deal and what it means for businesses, the county council’s plan for a new single North Yorkshire council how this single council would benefit businesses and deliver at scale.

Ministers have offered to devolve funds and powers as part of the Prime Minister’s “levelling up” agenda on the condition that local authorities scrap the two-tier structure and move to a streamlined unitary system.

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