A DEVOLUTION deal could focus on boosting York's rail industry and jobs in health and social care - as well as looking at plans for a tourism tax and regulation of holiday lets.

City of York Council has been asked to put forward a series of requests to the Government about what powers and priorities the city wants from a devolution deal.

Under the proposals, cash could go to creating a low carbon skills programme, bio-tech innovation and a tourism plan. Money would also be spent on projects including York Castle Museum’s redevelopment scheme, the Castle Gateway proposals and overhauling the front of York railway station.

But devolution could also involve the reorganisation of councils - with one idea to include York in a larger council with areas including Selby, Ryedale and Scarborough.

Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden said devolution should not mean changes to City of York Council's boundaries.

Speaking at an executive meeting he said: "We would just be starting a formal conversation to see what the government is prepared to offer. Any devolution deal has to be right for York and be of direct benefit to our residents, communities and businesses.

"It is for North Yorkshire County Council and the district authorities to determine which models may be most appropriate and beneficial to their local communities.

"City of York has worked successfully as a unitary authority since 1996, representing a unique self-governing and historic city. We do not believe that any changes to our structures or boundaries are required."

Labour group leader Danny Myers added: "We can make a positive contribution towards sealing a deal that protects York's significance as a city.

"York's got an economy that represents one-third of the whole of North Yorkshire's economy and, with respect to North Yorkshire, we really desperately need to ensure that we don't see our economy used to prop up the rest of the region."

He added that a devolution deal should also include a focus on rail technology and engineering to provide well-paid jobs, as well as powers to restrict Airbnb or holiday lets and roll out a tourism tax.

Lib Dem councillor Carol Runciman also called for a focus on developing "absolutely essential" health and social care jobs.

Speaking after the meeting, Conservative councillor Paul Doughty questioned plans for City of York Council to be left unchanged under the plans. He said: "The Government suggest an optimum devolved unitary authority would be near 400,000 population, meaning York is under efficient currently."

"We know inefficiencies in York need to be dealt with and the promise of devolution investment from national Government will depend on this being addressed.

"The need is more important in view of pressures Covid-19 has brought.

"We don’t see doing nothing as an option but statements from the Lib Dem-led Council thus far (and Labour) are that they are trying to gerrymander the process to protect their own individual empires rather than what’s best for York and neighbouring local authorities."