22 May 2024

Councils agree to hold devolution talks

The leaders of East Riding Council and Hull City Council have agreed to hold talks with the Government to look at the option of an elected mayor as part of a new devolution deal.

A combined authority deal would involve the two councils working together on strategic issues such as economic investment and transport, but the delivery of day-to-day services would remain the responsibility of each individual authority.

The option to include a mayor as part of a devolution deal would potentially see the East Riding and Hull, representing East Yorkshire, secure more funding from central government, and would give each authority and the public more say in where the money was best spent to benefit residents.

The proposal for a mayoral authority is a move away from the county deal on the table, which would involve the switching of power between the two authorities annually, with no elected mayor.

The two authorities are the last in Yorkshire without a deal.

The new leader of East Riding Council, Councillor Anne Handley, said: “We need to start delivering the best possible deal for the people of the East Riding and Hull and that means getting more money and more powers to improve the lives of local people.

“And that sentiment is shared too with Councillor Mike Ross, the leader of Hull City Council, and both our elected members and officers are now exploring what we can achieve with a mayoral authority.

“No deal is yet on the table as it’s very early days, but conversations will continue between the two authorities as we’re both committed to delivering the very best for our residents.”

Councillor Ross said: “It is widely accepted that there has been little, if any, progress in getting a devolution deal for the city which sets Hull back compared to many other cities of the same size across the country.

“The Government is clear that to get the best possible deal on offer, the mayoral model is their preferred approach.

“While there is still a lot of work to do, agreeing to consider what Hull and the East Riding can get out of a mayoral deal does at least move the discussion on.

“Ultimately the best interests of Hull will be a paramount in the consideration of any deal.”

Thomas Martin, chairman of the business engagement board that represents the interests of coastal and rural organisations in the area, was supportive of the new proposals.

He said: “Progressing a devolution deal is absolutely the right thing to do, but firstly I need to acknowledge the courage of our two local authority leaders, who in stepping forward together have parked individual politics, as both recognise this opportunity for our region.

“Both leaders understand that we simply cannot stay isolated forever – the world is already moving on around us and as other parts of the UK take jobs, investments and economic strategies that should be developed right here in East Yorkshire.”

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart said the deal meant that “local decisions will be taken at local level, and all of us will be able to have our say in whether we’re going in the right direction.”