VOTERS go to the polls on May 2 to elect York and North Yorkshire’s first-ever executive Mayor.

It’s an election that will affect every one of the 800,000-or so people that live in the region.

The new Mayor will preside over a ‘Combined Authority’ made up of delegates from both City of York and North Yorkshire councils.

Both of those councils will continue doing pretty much what they do now. The new Mayor and the Combined Authority they preside over will have more strategic, regional responsibilities – but with real power and money to spend.

He or she will have responsibility for a ‘Mayoral Investment Fund’ worth £540 million over 30 years.

The Mayor – not to be confused with the Lord Mayor of York, a ceremonial role which will continue – will have powers to secure the development of land for housing, and funds to improve transport across the region.

He or she will also have responsibility for adult education – and will take on the powers of the police, fire and crime commissioner.

There will be challenges. The new Combined Authority over which the Mayor will preside will cover a region which includes largely urban - and at the moment Labour-controlled - York, and very rural, naturally Conservative North Yorkshire.

York’s Labour leader Cllr Claire Douglas and North Yorkshire’s Conservative leader Cllr Carl Les have vowed to make it work, however.

“We both understand that the other has to see genuine benefits from devolution to make it work and where one benefits, the other does too,” Cllr Douglas said.

“There will be political differences, but actually, those differences will come out in the election for the Mayor,” Cllr Les said. “We will be tribal in that - but once the Mayor is elected we will come together to deliver improved services for the people we both represent.”

But what do other local politicians think?

Here’s what they had to say…

York council’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Nigel Ayre

York Press: Cllr Nigel AyreCllr Nigel Ayre (Image: Supplied)

“The new combined authority will give York and North Yorkshire a chance to work constructively together to bring vital investment into the region," Cllr Ayre says.

“The devolution deal secured by the last Lib Dem administration includes an investment of up to £50m to deliver the regeneration of the York Central site, £22.6m of funding to support the building of new homes on brownfield land, £18m per year in “Gainshare” funding and £7m to drive green economic growth.

“We look forward to working with the new Mayor to build a fairer, greener and safer York.

“Liberal Democrats have proposed ways forward that would ensure that the structures in place to scrutinise and make decisions within the combined authority are robust and protect the interests of the residents of York.”

There are rumblings of discontent from the Lib Dems, however, on the way York’s share of seats on the new combined authority will be allocated.

York and North Yorkshire councils will each have the same number of delegates on the combined authority.

But Cllr Ayre says York’s Labour leader Cllr Douglas has agreed to allocate one of York’s scrutiny committee seats to the city’s only independent councillor.

If that councillor was unable to attend a meeting, Cllr Ayre said, ‘this would put York at risk of being under represented at meetings due to the council’s rules that substitutes must come from the same group.’

Cllr Chris Steward, leader of the Conservative group on City of York Council

York Press: Cllr Chris StewardCllr Chris Steward (Image: Supplied)

“It is great that we will finally see devolution benefitting York and the surrounding region," Cllr Steward says.

“Fundamentally we have known for some time that whatever a devolution deal may look like, it was increasingly vital that York had one as without a deal we were literally missing out on money that would otherwise come to the region from central government.

“However, I do believe that in the region set of York and North Yorkshire we have the best geographical footprint for York. There are various widely differing communities across the new mayoral authority but all share common links and a theme of not being too urban.

“On transport … hopefully we can get much more of the A64 and A1237 finally dualled but also I am very keen to see a much more joined up vision for bus services and in this regard think it would be great it we could see wider trips on one ticket, greater frequency and as a key driver of this a franchising of some bus routes.

“I hope we can see more house building, especially at the lower price end of the market. The region has considerable brownfield land in particular which may not stack up for development on its own, but for which mayoral funds could be the missing link.

“Finally the new mayoral region should mean we start looking at things on a bigger scale, rather than just us being the City of York (brilliant city though it is!).

“One of the most crucial aspects (might be attracting) high quality employers who may for example need a large base that would be outside York, but York’s business and transport links would make the region appealing.”

York Green Party leader Denise Craghill

York Press: Denise CraghillDenise Craghill (Image: Supplied)

“It’s really important that we make the most of the opportunities a Combined Authority Mayor can offer for York residents," says Ms Craghill.

“The Mayor, together with lead councillors for York and North Yorkshire, will have the powers and funding to deliver net zero affordable housing, better bus services and investment in the well paid green jobs that York needs. The ‘deal’ also means the new authority will be well placed to argue for much larger scale Government investment to come to the city.

“As Greens, an elected Mayor is not our preferred option and we would still like to see greater accountability to residents and communities and more transparent decision making. However, at the moment this is probably the ‘best deal in town’ - and York is well placed to benefit from it. Despite having a population a third the size of North Yorkshire, York has half of the seats on the Combined Authority.

"Action on climate change is now desperately urgent, with many other environmental pressures threatening our chances of a safe future. We need a new Mayor who will work positively with both councils to reduce carbon emissions and help tackle the cost of living and social inequality as well as protecting our fantastic historic and natural environment in York and North Yorkshire.

"They will need to advocate for large scale investment in ‘retrofit’ to make all of York’s homes energy efficient (including the skills to support new jobs). They also need to make sure York Central is the community-led sustainable and affordable low carbon development – as well as using franchising powers to make our bus services cheaper, more frequent and reliable.”