THE prospect of an elected “mayor of Yorkshire” grew yesterday as 17 of the county’s 20 councils agreed to press on with devolution.

It could mean a mayor like the Tees Valley’s Ben Houchen being elected in 2020 – although Mr Houchen covers a population of 660,000 whereas Yorkshire’s would look after 5.3m people.

The new mayoral system has proved awkward to fit into a diverse county like Yorkshire, and Sheffield is apparently still pushing forward with its mayor this year. However, that post may only last two years so that a pan-Yorkshire mayor could be created in 2020.

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The councils of North Yorkshire, Richmondshire and Hambleton were represented at a meeting in York yesterday. The leaders say they detect a new approach from the Government which has previously wanted mayors to cover only metropolitan areas or travel-to-work areas.

A statement after yesterday’s meeting said: “Yorkshire council leaders welcomed the unity across party lines, from MPs, trade unions, business leaders and from the voluntary sector.

“The leaders expressed confidence that progress is being made towards securing a deal which would deliver a directly elected Mayor for Yorkshire by 2020.”

With a “north of Tyne” devolution deal imminent, only Durham, Sunderland and Gateshead have yet to fit into the new system.