The leader of a council which has spent years seeking more powers has spoken of his hope that the government will agree a devolution deal on Yorkshire Day, following the passing of a key target date.

North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said while it had been hoped devolution for the county and York would be agreed before the parliamentary summer recess started last week, work was continuing to finalise a deal after almost 20-months of negotiations.

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He told a meeting of the authority the Department for Communities and Local Government had launched a process known as a “write-round”, to get the consent of other ministries, such as the Treasury, and Department of Transport, without having to hold a cabinet meeting.

It is understood if all the government departments are happy, a devolution deal could be announced within days, and Cllr Les said he was hopeful a deal could be reached August 1 .

Councillor Les has repeatedly emphasised the county has no right to devolution and that North Yorkshire and York have had to develop a case for the government giving up some of its powers.

If there is an objection from any ministry it could delay the deal until September.

A meeting of the authority heard concerns over the potential consequences of the government missing the target date.

The concerns follow Michael Gove’s departure as communities secretary prompting fears within local government that devolution might be postponed.

However, local government analysts have reported Mr Gove’s replacement, Greg Clark, is determined to keep to his predecessor’s target of getting nine devolution deals signed before the autumn.

Senior council officials are understood to believe the familiarity of Mr Clark, who has championed devolution while serving as Communities Secretary under David Cameron, with devolution issues to have been helpful in maintaining the momentum to conclude deals.

There have also been concerns the deal could be delayed by an unwillingless to ratify major decisions during uncertainty over the incoming prime minister.

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It is believed the deal for York and North Yorkshire could potentially unlock around £2.4bn of investment over 30-years, with a focus on improving economic prosperity, creating more affordable housing and lead to the area becoming England’s first carbon negative economy.

Key to the asks which were put forward in December 2020 are wishes to take charge of delivering improved digital connectivity and the amount of “gain share” or extra funding from government.

Gain share is being viewed as a key part of the devolution deal as it will remain the same flat rate for the next 30 years, whereas the devolvement of powers could continue to be negotiated at a later date.


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