‘GREAT businesses with huge legacies’ across York and North Yorkshire will push on in 2021 following a tough year, says a leading business figure.

David Kerfoot said 2020 had been unlike any year he had experienced, creating ‘such a drawn-out impact on not just our economy, but also our physical, mental, educational and social well-being’.

Mr Kerfoot, who steps down as chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership in March, said his team had responded to the crisis with a drive to get things done.

“The speed the pandemic took hold on our daily lives was a massive shock. It was a big jolt to the system."

He added: "Of crucial importance in their response was the strong partnership working that has taken place with all of our partners. Working together, we have ensured the best possible regional response to the pandemic.”

He said the support and collaboration through challenging times reflected the area’s ‘can do’ attitude.

“Looking ahead to 2021, devolution is an absolute no-brainer. It’s a tremendous opportunity, with £2.4bn of asks covering green economy, infrastructure, skills, people, business, and more.

“What that could do for this region would be phenomenal. I truly hope that this is progressed and that working together we can deliver real and impactful progress towards our vision for a greener, fairer stronger York and North Yorkshire.

“Throughout 2020, Brexit has been the ghost in the cupboard because of Covid. We enter 2021 on an unsteady footing, and will need to continue our role to support businesses through yet more upheaval and change.

“Across our region, there are many great businesses with huge legacies and they will undoubtedly drive forward and press on.

"We’re waiting to see how the Government will decide how future investment will be distributed, but we have to see the announcements made in autumn as a boost for our region. The £4bn levelling up fund provides a great opportunity for York and North Yorkshire to put forward ambitious projects which ensure we grow back greener, fairer and stronger.”

“I believe the LEP can play a big part here. Involvement in large infrastructure projects, such as the £9.8m improvement to the railway between York and Harrogate completed this month, our commitment to skills investment, mapping out ambitious blueprints for our towns with work such as our ‘21st Century Towns’ report, and our drive to be a carbon negative region all point towards that.