By 2024 there will be a new directly-elected mayor for a York and North Yorkshire combined authority. But what will it mean for York? STEPHEN LEWIS reports

YORK is to link up with North Yorkshire in a new regional 'combined authority' with a directly-elected executive mayor.

York councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of a devolution deal at the end of last month. Councillors in North Yorkshire have also backed the move.

The deal is said to be worth up to £750 million for the region in total, with powers to invest an extra £540 million in the region over 30 years for local priorities such as economic growth, transport and the fight against climate change. An extra £50 million for York Central is also up for grabs.

But will it really be new money?

Where will the new directly-elected mayor be based? When will he or she take office? And what will be the impact on local democracy in York and the role of City of York Council?

We put a series of questions to the council, and to leading local politicians...


When will the first new executive mayor be elected?

The new combined authority is expected to be created later this year - with the new executive mayor being elected in May next year.


Where will the executive mayor be based?

This has not been decided yet. The new combined authority is expected to include staff from various local organisations and councils in York, Harrogate and Northallerton, but the future location of the new mayor's office is likely to be agreed between the combined authority and the new mayor.

City of York Council leader Keith Aspden has already gone on record as saying he thinks York would be a 'natural home' for the executive mayor's office, and the council's Labour opposition leader Claire Douglas has also called for the new combined authority to be based here. Green leader Andy D'Agorne said he 'very much hoped that York can provide an excellent location'.


The devolution deal is said to be worth up to £750 million for the region in total. But is this really extra money? Or is it money that would/ might have been spent in our region anyway, but over which there will now be more local control?

The city council insists that the £540 million of extra investment in the region over 30 years for local priorities such as economic growth, transport and the fight against climate change is 'completely new' and 'would not have been available without a mayoral devolution deal'.

The rest of the £750 million includes additional money for York Central, which is still being negotiated, plus £136 million of 're-announced' (ie not new) transport funding, comparatively small sums for brownfield housing (£13 million) and affordable housing (£2.65 million) and £7 million to help the region meet its Net Zero ambitions.

York's Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden says the deal will 'secure investment on a much larger scale than we are currently able to access'.


The authority's Labour opposition leader Claire Douglas, however, is less convinced that all the money is really new - although she does accept that there will be more local control over how it is spent.

She said: "The funding in this devolution deal is a notional figure for what our area might have expected to receive were it successful in competitive bidding to Government from various national funding pots.

"This should (however) mean we automatically get this money instead of having to compete with councils nationally that don’t have devolution deals. It (also) moves the decisions over how the cash is spent from Whitehall to our area, with York having more of a say."


What decisions would be made by the new elected regional mayor, and what decisions would continue to be made by City of York Council?

The 'vast majority of decisions currently made by (York) council will continue to be made by the council, with the combined authority designed to add new regional responsibilities,' a spokesperson for the city council said.

The new regional mayor will make decisions as part of the new combined authority, which will consist of two voting members from each of York and North Yorkshire councils, plus the mayor. "The (combined authority) will take decisions on the York and North Yorkshire Local Transport Plan, the Adult Educating Budget, and investment through the Mayoral Investment Fund and other funding streams," the city council spokesperson said. The mayor will also take over the powers currently held by the police, fire and crime commissioner.

While the executive mayor will play an important role at a regional level, however, the leaders of York and North Yorkshire councils will still both have a hugely important part to play in identifying need in their areas and delivering on local services.


It seems likely a new mayor for the whole region would usually be Conservative (given the demographic), while the leader of York council is more likely to be Liberal Democrat or Labour. Will this cause problems for the way York is run?

Paul Doughty, leader of the Conservative group on City of York Council, says it is 'not a foregone conclusion' that the new regional mayor will necessarily be a Conservative, although he adds that 'I believe a Conservative mayor will best champion our area'.

Labour's Claire Douglas said that, regardless of who the new regional mayor was, the key thing would be that 'York needs a political leader willing to get out there and work constructively with the mayor, with York and North Yorkshire politicians, with the Local Enterprise Partnership, with business and other partners, and with council officers to develop the schemes and initiatives that will bring genuine and long lasting benefits to York'.

York council leader Keith Aspden said: "This is ... a historic moment for our city. This devolution deal ensures that decisions are made closer to local residents, communities and businesses, rather than in Whitehall. It strengthens York’s position as a key driver of the North’s economy, and unlocks 30 years of vital investment."