Harrogate’s three devolution choices

Leeds city centre skyline with Bridgewater Place, The Town Hall, Leeds University etc.
Leeds city centre skyline with Bridgewater Place, The Town Hall, Leeds University etc.

The Harrogate district has been included in three different bids for devolved powers from the Government.

As the Harrogate Advertiser Series has outlined in previous weeks, the district has been included in both West Yorkshire Combined Authorities’ Leeds City Region bid and the City of York, North Yorkshire and East Riding proposal.

Conservative politicians from across the county managed to pull together a last minute proposal for a Greater Yorkshire, though it lacks support from key West Yorkshire politicians.

In the proposal to the Chancellor George Osborne, it is claimed that the Greater Yorkshire area, which has a population of 3.7m and the potential to add £73bn to the areas economy (GVA).

Harrogate council leader Coun Richard Cooper (Con, High Harrogate), North Yorkshire County Council leader Coun Carl Les (Con, Catterick) have backed the Greater Yorkshire bid which would include 16 councils, as have MP for Ripon and Skipton, Julian Smith, MP for Selby and Ainsty, Nigel Adams and MP for Elmet and Rothwell Alec Shelbrooke.

Harrogate and Knaresborough’s MP Andrew Jones has previously said the district must ‘keep its options open’.

Conservatives calling for a Yorkshire have said: “We believe that this option is the best way to give the people of Yorkshire a strong voice and to ensure that any decision about Yorkshire, will be made in Yorkshire. Strong governance arrangements in place across the region which would consist of a single Combined Authority with an elected Mayor and an Executive of Leaders.”

North Yorkshire County Council attempted to block Harrogate District Council from having the ability to opt to work with the Leeds City Region last week after Coun Les said it would refuse to hand highways powers to the council.

Leeds City Council Leader, Coun Judith Blake and her West Yorkshire Colleagues Coun Peter Box leader of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Roger Marsh have acknowledged the difficulty of joining with district councils if the County Council refused.

They said: “ Securing devolved powers to the City Region will likely pose some technical and administrative challenges. Therefore we would ask for help and guidance in finding a way through, including, if necessary, an associate membership model that is made meaningful and encourages collaboration.”