Concern that combined authority already ‘York-centric’

The first meeting of the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority with mayor David Skaith at the helm. Picture: LDRS.

Despite only being in operation for just over a month there are already grumblings from some North Yorkshire councillors that the new combined authority is focusing its attention on York.

The York & North Yorkshire Combined Authority launched last month following the election of Labour mayor David Skaith.

He was partly elected due to large support in urban areas like York, Scarborough and Harrogate.

City of York and North Yorkshire Council share two councillors each on the board which is chaired by Mr Skaith who controls a budget of £18m a year.

He runs a business in York and his selection for deputy mayor, York councillor Jo Coles, was confirmed at a meeting this week. Ms Coles will now take over the duties of the former Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

The mayor has earmarked funding for towns and cities in the region but Skipton and Ripon area councillors discussed at a meeting whether more money would be available for rural areas and villages.

Cllr Nathan Hull (Conservative, Washburn & Birstwith) said: “I know he has to get his feet under the table but he needs to remember most of North Yorkshire is made of rural village communities. It’s where a huge population of our area lives.”

Cllr Richard Foster (Conservative, Wharfedale) suggested the mayor could work with the council to ensure the right housing is built in rural villages. He added: “He’s a York mayor and it feels very York-centric at the moment so to get him to come out and look at rural communities is very important. ”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Masham and Fountains, Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, came third in the race to become mayor and she questioned if some of the combined authority’s money could be spent on schemes like power generation in villages.

The local area constituency committee meets every couple of months. Conservative MP Julian Smith regularly attends via Zoom from Parliament to take questions from councillors about local issues.

Cllr Andrew Williams (Conservative and Independents Group, Ripon Minster & Moorside) suggested that Mr Skaith could be invited to meetings too so he can hear about issues affecting the Skipton and Ripon area.

He said: “If every six months the mayor is asked to attend meetings it would be an opportunity to put his feet to the flames and hold him accountable for what is happening within the patch.”

In a statement, James Farrar, interim head of paid service at York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:  “At the Combined Authority meeting on 31 May, £2.21 million was approved to develop plans for future priorities. These include transport and cost of living plans, economic growth plans, updating net zero plans, a regionwide housing retrofit strategy and a York and North Yorkshire Innovation Action Plan, which has a business and skills focus. These plans are a starting point and can bring benefits to all communities across York and North Yorkshire.

“Including spending from the Mayoral Investment Fund, the Combined Authority will deliver £112 million of investment in 2024/25 across York and North Yorkshire. This includes a £67 million local transport fund, £12.7 million for brownfield housing, £10 million of green economy investment and £2.9 million for skills provision – including the implementation of a devolved adult education budget for the region.”

3 Comments

  1. Why kid ourselves and be nieve, this was always going to be the case with the major cities and towns enjoying increased funding at the expense of rural communities, express your annoyance at the next local elections, time for change or things will not!

  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the likes of the Upper Dales will only receive the crumbs.
    If they are lucky.

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