Devolution Alliance – call to action for mayor

The new mayor of York & North Yorkshire must focus on improving inward investment into the region, upgrading its transport links and on improving leadership in the region, a landmark report has revealed. 

The Devolution Alliance, a collaboration between York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, York St John University and the University of York has brought together the voices of the region’s key sectors to highlight the region’s economic strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. 

The document is published in the week of the mayoral elections with a view to giving the successful candidate the clearest picture of what needs to be done for North Yorkshire’s business community.  

The report’s authors spoke to 12 of the region’s key sectors, including technology and data, heritage, creatives, bioeconomy and hospitality to assess their key asks from the new mayor.  

The cross-cutting themes that emerged were that the mayor should prioritise: 

  • Improving inward investment into the region 
  • Upgrading the region’s transport infrastructure 
  • Ensure more accountability in the region, in particular the adoption of a local plan and Chief Executive Officer at City of York Council  
  • That the mayor communicates clearly about his or her plans and use of finances around the region. 

Sarah Czarnecki, president of York & North Yorkshire Chamber, said: “We founded the Devolution Alliance in December of last year so that we could draw together key insights from businesses across the region that we could present to the mayor when he or she is elected in May. 

“What has emerged from the research is a compelling picture of what can be achieved if business growth is unlocked in our region. 

“It is clear from companies across multiple sectors that we need more inward investment, better transport, greater accountability and a clear plan for communication. 

“When the mayor is elected after this Thursday’s election, they will have a clear pathway to making York & North Yorkshire a more prosperous and fairer place to do business.” 

Another key set of asks from the North Yorkshire business of the incoming mayor was that he or she put the region ahead of any political ambitions they may hold and for them to recognise the importance of business to the region’s prosperity.  

As well as the cross-cutting themes, the region’s individual sectors had their own asks of the mayor when they take office.  

For instance, the hospitality industry, worth £1.5bn a year to North Yorkshire, called for a figurehead akin to the nighttime tsar in Manchester to be appointed to champion the sector.  

The heritage sector was among the loudest voices calling for a Local Plan to be adopted and made clear that he decision-making process on planning applications needed to be massively sped up.  

The region’s cultural sector called upon the mayor and the new Combined Authority bring York and North Yorkshire back together. Citing the high cost of living in York, it suggested that links be forged for people to live in the surrounding areas yet be better connected to the city.  

The renewables and carbon capture sector said that skills development to be stepped up if it is roll out its carbon capture plans, with 10,000 jobs needed during the height of the construction.  

A spokesperson said: “We can become UK’s first carbon negative region. The mayor needs to be a champion of this. And we need to be heard at Whitehall too.” 

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