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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
David Laister

Devolution deal step for Hull and East Riding as leaders look at elected mayor option

The leaders of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council are to consider having an elected mayor as part of a new devolution deal.

Both have agreed to enter talks with government over a combined authority proposal. It would involve the two councils working together at a strategic level on agendas such as economic investment and transport, with the delivery of day-to-day services remaining the responsibility of each individual entity.

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.

Read more: Humber unity call at Humber Business Week

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, and the new leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Cllr 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.”

Hopes for a pan-Humber arrangement, representing the recognised economic area by Westminster, were scotched when - following government’s insistence on single local enterprise partnership membership - the two South Bank authorities opted to look to Greater Lincolnshire.

Cllr Mike Ross, leader, Hull City Council, had outlined intentions when addressing the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce Expo lunch earlier this month. He 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 paramount in the consideration of any deal.”

There have been strong calls from the private sector for unity. Yorkshire Energy Park straddles both authorities, while Saltend - one of the most active sites for investment, and tied into Port of Hull - sits in East Riding. The Humber Freeport model is in the final throes of being signed off, another key unifier, while Smith & Nephew's proposed eight mile move west also sees it cross the local authority boundary.

Thomas Martin, chairman of the business engagement board, was supportive of the new proposals. The Arco chair 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 as a whole.

“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.”

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