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Agenda item

Pre-decision scrutiny of Devolution Reports to Executive, September 2022 (5.40 pm)

This covering report provides the context for the draft reports, contained in Annex A and Appendices 1-6, which will be discussed at Executive on 15 September 2022.

Minutes:

Members reviewed the draft reports on the Devolution Deal (the Deal) and questioned the Executive Leader (incorporating Policy, Strategy and Partnerships), the Chief Operating Officer and the Head of Corporate Policy and City Partnerships on a variety of aspects of the agreement.

 

A joint presentation was given at the meeting.  Firstly, the Executive Leader outlined the process of the Deal and explained that the level 3 devolution deal was the highest level of deal and equivalent to the devolution deals agreed for South and West Yorkshire.  He highlighted that the Deal gave access to powers and funding levels that were of great benefit to the city.  

 

The Chief Operating Officer then went on to outline the financial gains;

·        £18 million per year in Gainshare funding over 30 years.

·        Revenue moved to capital so as to front load expenditure and capitalise major projects.

·        An additional £50m (subject to the final business case) would be delivered to the York Central project. 

 

The Head of Corporate Policy and City Partnerships then explained the governance arrangements for the Combined Authority (CA).

 

The presentation was followed by comments from some key stakeholders.

 

Helen Simpson, Chair of the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (YNY LEP) explained that the national Government were completely committed to the Deal. It would transform the region’s perception and improve the potential for economic growth.  Decision making would be transferred to the community with transport, in particular, benefiting from this.  The creation of a sizeable investment fund was the starting point to access other additional funding streams. The Deal meant inclusion in central government decisions and a growth in opportunities for the region.

 

James Farrar, Chief Operating Officer, YNY LEP, added that the Deal was an investment in business. Businesses needed certainty and rather than spending time writing complex bids for additional funding, the Deal meant that they could plan strategically for the long-term future and work with Higher Education and other partners.

 

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice Chancellor and President of University of York (UOY), explained that the Deal provided opportunity for growth and integrated partnerships.  He highlighted the Bio Yorkshire programme as an example of the integrated approach that had been taken in the fields of agriculture, food and biotechnology with the aim of generating energy and reducing plastics.  The UOY and Askham Bryan College had developed courses to provide trained graduates in these fields.  The programme was leading the industry in the UK and internationally.

 

Carolyn Frank, the North Yorkshire Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) explained that the FSB had consulted regularly with members on devolution.  The Deal was expected to bring skills to the region through access to a quality workforce and efficient business support with decisions made in West Offices rather than in Westminster.  She identified the opportunity to involve all local businesses to develop a strategic partnership approach.

 

The stakeholders individually responded to a variety of questions from Members covering Local Authority (LA) planning for investment opportunities, confidence in the Deal in terms of future proofing, policy changes at national government level, possible areas of conflict between York and North Yorkshire and the region’s Bio economy.

 

 

[The meeting was adjourned from 18:55 to 19:05 to allow for a short comfort break and to enable the stakeholders to leave]

 

Following the adjournment, the Head of Corporate Policy and City Partnerships explained the next stage in the process for the Deal and noted that the funding and parameters of the Deal had already been set.  A consultation period had begun on the scheme, concerning the mechanism for how the combined authority (CA) would work.  Officers and the Executive Leader, responded to numerous questions on; transport and highways, funding details, governance and scrutiny, the consultation process and set up costs and housing.

 

 

[19:53 Cllr Baker left the meeting. 20:16 Cllr Musson left the meeting.]

 

Following a lengthy debate, the Chair summarised the Committee’s comments on the Scheme, as outlined in the report and further presented at the meeting as being:

 

·        To note the proposed recommendations to the Executive/Council subject to recommendation 16.1 (c) being amended to reflect the cost risk being ‘shared’ across both authorities;

·        To request a briefing note to be circulated to all Councillors on the consultation process to seek their views upon it to ensure it satisfactorily addressed the needs and formats for all;

·        To request the Executive Leader and Chief Operating Officer keep all Members informed of any future developments as the Deal progressed;

·        That the Leader would write to the relevant minister to express Members disappointment in hearing about the Devolution Deal via a press release and to request that Members were, in future, notified in advance of any information being released to the press.

 

Resolved: That the content and recommendations of the Devolution Reports be noted, subject to the above additional requests.

 

Reason:     To keep the Committee updated on the Devolution Deal.

Supporting documents:

 

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