Agenda item

Mayoral Combined Authority Governance


Considered – Report of the Assistant Chief Executive – Legal and Democratic Services to update the committee on progress with creating the Combined Authority (CA) for York and North Yorkshire and the associated governance issues.


Some of the key points highlighted in the report and presentation are as summarised below:


·       The benefits of the Devolution Deal for York and North Yorkshire were outlined. Creating a Combined Authority provides a platform to bid for additional funding and provide a voice for the region.


·       The Order that creates the Combined Authority was laid before Parliament on 7th November 2023, it will be debated in the House of Commons and House of Lords, with the current working assumption that Government will approve the Order in the week commencing 8th January 2024.


·       The planned timetable for the Combined Authority is that once the Order has been signed and the Combined Authority created, Mayoral Capacity Funding will then be received, along with half of the money from the Annual Investment Fund, the Brown Field Housing Fund, Net Zero Fund, Housing Capacity Funding and the Transport Capacity Funding. The other half of the funding will be received when the new Mayor is elected.


·       The inaugural meeting of the Combined Authority is planned to take place towards the end of January 2024, to approve the Constitution, appoint external auditors, approve the committee structure (including appointments) and agree the budget.


·       Mayoral elections will take place on 2nd May 2024, followed on 7th May with the move of the PFCC powers and functions across to the now fully functional Mayoral Combined Authority, along with the rest of the funding entitlements.


·       The Mayor will Chair the Combined Authority, along with two members from each of the constituent councils involved (City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council) as voting members, of which one will act as the Lead Member for their authority. A non-voting representative, the Chair of the LEP/Business Committee, will also sit on the Combined Authority.


·       A proposed committee structure was included in the Scheme that was consulted upon, although the final decision will sit with the Combined Authority. This includes an Overview and Scrutiny Committee (6 members from each constituent council), Audit and Governance Committee (4 members from each constituent Council and 1 independent person), a Business Committee (consultative body set to be integrated from the LEP) and potentially a separate Transport Committee (TBC).


·       The proposed structure includes a Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, but the decision on whether to proceed with this set up will be for the Mayor once elected. Currently a Joint Independent Audit Committee/Panel for Policing and for Fire and Rescue will sit underneath this to provide checks and balance.


·       The Devolution Deal devolves functions to the Combined Authority into two strands: those exercisable solely by the Mayor (e.g. Housing, Planning, Finance, Transport and PFCC functions) and those exercised by the Combined Authority (e.g. Economic Development, Adult Education, Skills, Transport – Key Route Network, Housing functions (related to CPO) and the power to borrow (up to an agreed cap).


·       On the decision making of the Combined Authority, each decision will be by a simple majority of those present and voting, but the majority must include the vote of the Mayor.



Following this, questions and comments raised by the committee included:


·     The checks and balances put in place as part of the draft Combined Authority Constitution to operate efficiently and transparently were widely welcomed.


·     The role of the proposed Business Committee and whether it would have the required ability to encourage public involvement in it was discussed. As an advisory, non-decision making body, there will be checks and balances put in place, along with the Overview and Scrutiny Committee providing challenge. The current proposal for the Business Committee membership is to have four private sector members and four public sector members, but this is subject to change.


·     Whether a Housing or a Climate Change Committee has also been considered? The model across other Combined Authorities around the country is for a number of other thematic boards to be set up as required.


·     There are two types of deputies: 1. the Mayor could appoint a deputy from the Combined Authority councillor members to act as a deputy in their absence. 2. Separate option to appoint a Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, but the selection pool is wider, also including councillors in the constituent authorities or a member of the public.


·     Clarification was sought on the rule that the chair and vice-chair of the Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee cannot be a member of the same political party as the Mayor.


·     Mechanisms for removing Mayors displaying inappropriate behaviour was discussed, such as through the role of the proposed Audit and Governance Committee and by applying the new Combined Authority Code of Conduct.


·     It was noted that North Yorkshire Council will continue to retain its highways functions under the Mayoral Combined Authority, with the main addition being the power to allocate routes as ‘Key Route Networks’.


Resolved – To note the proposals on the governance of the Combined Authority.

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