York and North Yorkshire combined authority to employ 54 staff

Officials sign the York and North Yorkshire devolution deal in 2022.

The new York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority will employ 54 staff at a cost of £4.5m a year, it has been revealed.

The authority will be led by the region’s first-ever mayor with voters going to the polls on May 2.

Later today, councillors at North Yorkshire Council and City of York Council will discuss a report that details the new mayor’s budget in their first year.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the office that is overseeing the creation of the combined authority for clarity on how many staff it will hire and what roles they will be doing.

James Farrar, interim director of transition, said the 54 officers will help to deliver £56m of “transformational programmes” related to housing, education, business and net zero.

They will also work to win additional investment and support businesses in the region.

Staff currently working in the office of Zoe Metcalfe, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, will transfer into the combined authority.

Regarding what the new mayor will be paid, an independent panel will make a recommendation after the election.

According to the website citymayors.com, West Yorkshire mayor Tracey Brabin is paid an annual allowance of £106,837, South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis receives £79,000 and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen is paid £65,000.

Mr Farrar added: “The launch of the combined authority marks a historic moment for York and North Yorkshire as powers and funds previously held by Westminster have been devolved to local decision makers. That means more local controls and investment into local priorities.”

Powers used by mayors elsewhere in the country have included taking buses back into public ownership as has happened in Greater Manchester.

Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen brought Teesside International Airport into public ownership in 2018 but he’s faced criticism over use of public money in the Redcar Steelworks project. Mr Houchen has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Cllr Andy Brown (Green Party, Aire Valley) said he would have preferred to see one mayor for the whole of Yorkshire which he believes could assert more influence in Westminster.

But he said he hopes the role will lead to more investment in the region.

Cllr Brown said: “Lots of little mayors with different powers risks becoming a mess where people in London offer local leaders funding to do what they are told.”

“I welcome the opportunity for a North Yorkshire mayor to play a positive role in attracting responsible and sustainable economic development but would not welcome a repeat of the shambolic cynical misuse of public money that has taken place in Teesside under their badly controlled mayor.”

Joanna Marchong, investigations campaign manager of campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance said residents “will be sceptical of a huge pay bill” amidst talk of savings.

She added: “Combined authorities often deliver cheaper, more efficient services and York and North Yorkshire combined authority should be no exception. Officials must iron out the details and ensure residents are getting value for money.”