THE majority of candidates competing to become York and North Yorkshire’s first elected mayor have pledged to harness the economic potential of bioscience and greener ambitions as part of their long-term vision to secure more money and prosperity in the region.

While those pledges dovetail with the visions outlined by councils and York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, boosting the economy will be among the leading tasks to get underway for the the York and North Yorkshire Mayor after being elected as champion for a four-year term on May 2.

The mayor will have responsibility for the 30-year £540m Mayoral Investment Fund to further economic growth and the powers to borrow against funds.

When asked about what they would do to grow the economy, some candidates opted to offer more general ambitions while others listed a range of specific actions that they could be held to if elected.

Labour candidate David Skaith said he would ensure York and North Yorkshire “lead the way in the bioeconomy”.

He said: “With the help of BioYorkshire, we will create a region that develops new technologies and practices that support food production, green energy and our drive to become NetZero.

“We are fortunate in York and North Yorkshire to have an economy that is driven by the great number of small and medium size businesses and a thriving hospitality, leisure and tourism industry, something I will continue to champion.”

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, the Liberal Democrat candidate said she would target funding and support at the three industry hubs with the greatest potential for growth – the bio-economy, green energy generation and media/film industry.

She added: “I will build up a better skills base by increasing funding in apprenticeship schemes, driving more into the priority skills areas where there is the most shortage, such as the care sector and green energy, while incentivising mature adults to retrain.

She said she would also support the development of skills villages, lobby for visa restrictions to be lifted in target sectors and establish a region-wide levy transfer platform.

Conservative candidate Keane Duncan said alongside supporting jobs in new industries, such as the bioeconomy, and investing in harbours he would back traditional industries by opening building skills centres and establishing a regional hospitality academy.

He said free car parking would be offered to every town and city to support retail and hospitality, more apprenticeships would be funded and that he would seek to achieve 100 per cent digital connectivity across the rural county.

In addition, Mr Duncan said he would seek “direct control of farm payments so our farmers are in control, not London bureaucrats”, while launching a relief fund to compensate food producers hit by disasters.

Independent candidate Keith Tordoff said if elected as mayor he would negotiate increased funding from central Government and train young people to retrofit older properties with insulation, solar panels and the latest efficient heating systems.

He said: “I will create a mayoral fund working with businesses and organisations to fund tech and green business start up funds.

“I will attract businesses to relocate to York and North Yorkshire  – why wouldn’t they want to have their operations here ?”

Green Party candidate Kevin Foster said the transition to net zero was “a great opportunity to grow and transform our local economy” and as mayor, he would want to attract innovative businesses and new investment into the region to create well-paid skilled jobs.

Mr Foster added: “We have a great story to tell and an important part of the mayor’s job is to be the person who delivers the message that this is a great place to live and work, that we have first class education and training institutions which can equip the workforce with the right skills, and that we have good transport links to get goods and services to a wider market.”

Independent candidate Paul Haslam said for business to thrive it needed favourable conditions, so as mayor he would bring in both public and private finance to support and develop key industrial sectors to become world class and support universities to promote innovation.

Alongside the extra funding, he would encourage the transition to a “circular economy” to create a waste-free York and North Yorkshire.

He said he would also focus on delivering a highly skilled workforce by providing re-skilling and upskilling centres and creating well paid jobs so young people could find satisfying work in York and North Yorkshire.

The mayoral election is on May 2.