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‘Why I’m looking forward to devolution and a regional Mayor’

From 2024, the local authority areas of City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council will form a new Combined Authority led by a directly elected mayor.

The new mayor will have control over significant new funding streams as well as key powers on transport, housing and education.

One of the most exciting parts of the devolution deal, with was signed at the National Railway Museum last year on Yorkshire Day, is a £540 million investment fund which will be spent over 30 years to help drive growth and take forward local priorities.

This will give the mayor, City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council far more flexibility on where in our region investment is targeted. With local knowledge, we can ensure this money is spent where it is most needed and where it will deliver most for residents.

On top of this investment fund, there is also up to £40 million earmarked to help turbocharge the redevelopment of the York Central teardrop site. After decades of stalling, it is incredible to finally see this project gathering pace with the potential to deliver 2,500 new homes, 6,500 new jobs and add £1 billion to our local economy.

As well as funding, the Combined Authority will also be granted additional powers. The mayor will absorb powers currently administered by our Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner as well as powers to improve local transport and guide regeneration of brownfield sites.

With such a vital role, it is important the right person is elected to be York and North Yorkshire’s first mayor.

Last months, the Conservative Party selected their candidate – North Yorkshire councillor Keane Duncan. Representing Norton, Keane is no stranger to York having studied at the University of York.

Keane has a vision for York and North Yorkshire that is open for business and proud of success – a greener and more productive area embracing future industries and offering highly-skilled, well-paid job opportunities.

I am firmly behind him pushing this agenda and will work with him to attract investment, jobs and opportunities to our region.

He is also fully behind the Government’s brownfield-first plan for development, pledging to build nearly one thousand homes on brownfield land in his first two years as mayor to help more young people and families achieve their ambition of home ownership.

With the election next May, I am sure you will hear much more from Keane. I look forward to welcoming him to York to talk to residents so that he can hear their concerns and show how he can deliver for them as mayor.

August 1 was not just Yorkshire Day but also marked a big shakeup of rates of alcohol duty.

The main thrust of reforms was to level the playing field between pubs and supermarkets. This is being spearheaded with a new draught duty level for beer served in pubs which will lower the tax charged on a pint by up to 11p depending on strength.

While I welcome these changes, having campaigned alongside a hundred backbench Members of Parliament for a draught duty rate, we need to accept the reality that more has to be done if we are going to protect pubs.

This is especially important locally where in many of the villages of York Outer, the local pub is one of the last shared community spaces.

I was going to wait until the Autumn Statement before lobbying the Chancellor but have decided there is no time to wait. I am calling for further reductions in alcohol duty in pubs, a reduced rate of VAT for hospitality businesses and for a stop to the stealth ban on takeaway beer.

We need to match our words with actions and prove that we want to protect the Great British pub.

We can all do our bit so why not enjoy a belated Yorkshire Day celebration over a drink or two at your local this week. Even better if it is a pint from one of our local breweries!

Julian Sturdy is the Conservative MP for York Outer

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