Chance for businesses to hear how devolution plans could boost North Yorkshire's future

Business leaders in North Yorkshire are being invited to learn more about how the future shape of local government and the subsequent devolution could benefit them.

Monday, 7th September 2020, 9:54 am
Updated Monday, 7th September 2020, 9:58 am
Nick Stafford, owner of Hambleton Brewery

North Yorkshire County Council is to host an online seminar for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.. This will give businesspeople an opportunity to hear first-hand the authority's proposal for a single council for North Yorkshire as local government in York and North Yorkshire is reorganised as a prerequisite to securing a devolution deal.

It will provide an overview of the York and North Yorkshire devolution deal and what it means for businesses and explain how a single council would benefit smaller entertprises and deliver at scale.

The county council is 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.

It has approved the submission of plans to Government 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.

County council leader Cllr Carl Les said: “Not only will a single council based on the county’s current identity simplify things for businesses – renewing our economy following the shock of the pandemic – it will protect and strengthen high-quality services.

“Our bid will also protect the globally recognised identity of North Yorkshire, which is vital for tourism. There is a great deal at stake and we believe this is the only sustainable, credible option.

“I encourage all businesspeople with an interest in the future of our county and the opportunities that can afford them to register for this online seminar, hear what we have to say, ask questions and make up their own minds.”

Nick Stafford, owner of Hambleton Brewery, is in favour of change as long as the reason is clear.

“We understand that business models need to change, not least in local government,” he said, “but we mustn’t lose our democratic rights. Therefore, my feeling is that a unitary must ensure responsibility for delivery at as low a level as possible. In that way, they can stay in touch with the people who matter, the individual resident in North Yorkshire.”

Among the county council’s proposals to strengthen decision making at a local level is “double devolution”, which would see more powers devolved to town and parish councils, where they wanted them.

Nick said: “I am fully supportive of retaining what has been good in the past, but removing inefficiencies and replacing them with new vision and efficiencies going forward. I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water, but we can’t stand still.

“I think it is important for the county to understand how businesses operate and in that the greater expertise is probably at county level.”

The County Council’s online seminar will take place on Thursday September 10 from 1pm to 2pm. To register to join, visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/SMEwebinarThe seminar will offer an opportunity to question chief executive Richard Flinton and assistant director growth, planning and trading standards Matt O’Neill.