THE York and North Yorkshire combined authority has met for the first time ahead of the region’s first mayoral election in May. 

Councillor Claire Douglas, the Labour leader of the City of York Council, and Councillor Carl Les, the Conservative leader of North Yorkshire Council, met with senior councillors, council officers and members of the public on Monday.

The budget for the combined authority was approved, which will see more than £38m spent until March 2025 of almost £57m worth of government grants. 

In May, the electorate in York and North Yorkshire will elect a metro mayor to run the combined authority and delegate spending on devolved powers such as transport, education and housing.

This is the first time these powers have been given to regional politicians – away from Westminster – and below is everything people in York and North Yorkshire, including Craven, need to know about the new combined authority.

When is the mayoral election?

On May 2 the electorate in York and North Yorkshire will vote for their preferred candidate for mayor.  The election will use the first-past-the-post voting system, as is also done in the UK general election.  The cost of the election is set to cost taxpayers £2.2m.

It will coincide with other mayoral elections across the country in London where Sadiq Khan (Lab) is mayor, Greater Manchester with Andy Burnham (Lab) and Tees Valley with Ben Houchen (Con). 

Other mayors will defend their records in Liverpool, South Yorkshire, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.  Two other new combined authorities will also elect their first mayor in the East Midlands and the North East.  Who are the candidates?

Four candidates have announced that they will be running for the election for North Yorkshire Mayor on May 2 so far.  Already announced candidates include: 

Conservative Party: Keane Duncan, a former Daily Star journalist who currently serves as the transport executive on North Yorkshire Council. At just 29-years-old, he’d be the youngest metro mayor in the country if elected. 

Labour Party: David Skaith, the owner of the men’s clothing store Winstons of York, was previously chair of York High Street Forum and secretary of Indie York. He unsuccessfully ran to be a councillor for the City of York Council in May 2023. 

Green Party: Kevin Foster is a former soldier who also worked in the civil service for 30 years before being elected as a North Yorkshire councillor. 

Independent: Keith Tordoff was originally the candidate for The Yorkshire Party but was deselected when he promised free chickens for 2,000 homes. He is a former police officer who investigated the Yorkshire serial killer Peter Sutcliffe.

The Yorkshire Party has not selected a replacement for Mr Tordoff, and the Liberal Democrats “hope to confirm the identity of the candidate shortly.”

How will it work?

Once a mayor is elected, they will consume the powers of the police, fire and crime commissioner, as well as taking on other devolved powers.

Spending has been approved for between January 2024 and March 2025.

Key aspects of what has been decided include:  Transport capacity funding (£1m) Housing capacity funding (£347k) Brownfield funding (£12.7m) Net zero funding (£7m) Adult education (£384k).

What have the leaders said?

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire Council, said: “Today’s meeting represents the latest significant step to bringing the benefits of more local decision-making powers and millions of pounds in additional funding to York and North Yorkshire for hundreds of thousands of people.

“The combined authority represents a powerful means of ensuring these benefits are delivered for residents and businesses alike.

“It will be vital in ensuring that the full potential of the devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire comes to fruition, bringing better jobs and improved skills and training as well as major environmentally-friendly projects and more affordable housing to the region.”

Cllr Claire Douglas, leader of the City of York Council, said: “The combined authority presents significant new opportunities for our region and we will continue to work with colleagues in North Yorkshire and the mayor, when they are elected, to deliver for the people of York and North Yorkshire.

“This means delivering more sustainable and affordable housing, increased investment in transport, tackling the climate emergency and growing our economy for the benefit of everyone.”