BUSINESS leaders in North Yorkshire can learn more on the future of local government and how devolution could benefit them in an online seminar.

North Yorkshire County Council is hosting an online seminar for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), so businesses can hear first-hand the proposals for a single council for North Yorkshire as local government in York and North Yorkshire is reorganised in a bid to secure devolution.

It will provide an overview of the devolution deal, what it means for businesses and explain how a single council would help firms deliver.

The County Council is working on an ambitious devolution deal to take control of funds and powers from central government to accelerate the recovery from the pandemic and create new growth opportunities.

It has approved the submission of plans to invest £540m in fibre connectivity, £390m in transport links, £290m in market town centres, £215m in the bio-economy, £95m on housing, £50m on green energy and £10m in skills over the coming years.

The new single council proposals would also save significantly more than £25m a year by scrapping the current two-tier structure of local government, which has seven district councils and a county council.

Richard Flinton, the county council’s chief executive, said: “North Yorkshire has a vibrant and diverse business community with international strengths in bio-economy, technology, manufacturing and tourism.

“This devolution deal will back companies of all sizes with new investment of up to £2.4bn in the infrastructure they need to grow and prosper, but the time is now – devolution must not be delayed. The cost of any delay could be extremely significant. Our proposals simplify and strengthen local government, save unnecessary spending, bring stability and give us the size and scale to succeed.”

One business owner who is supportive of the County Council’s position on local government reorganisation is Kal Shergill, director of Ace Elevators, which has a contract with the council for the installation and maintenance of lifts.

“If one council covers the whole county, it’s easier for everybody,” he said. “Having a contract with the council, if you’ve got a bigger patch you can employ more people and respond more quickly, and because of that scale you can keep your costs lower and give that discount back to the council. It works both ways. The council gets a more competitive tender, we win because we can give a faster service at a lower price.”

The seminar is on Thursday, September 10, from 1pm to 2pm. Cisit