The leaders of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council, Councillor Jonathan Owen and Councillor Daren Hale, yesterday (Tuesday, 3 August), held a positive and constructive meeting with Luke Hall MP, Minister of State (Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government), about devolution and what it could mean for Hull and the East Riding.
The meeting was an opportunity to re-establish discussions, which had to be put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for both Government and Local Government to prioritise their responses, nationally and locally, in order to support residents, businesses and communities.
In March 2020, both councils confirmed their ambition to work closely together to progress a strong and ambitious case for a regional devolution deal between the two authorities and this ambition remains.
Hull and the East Riding have extremely strong economic and social links and have many shared interests and opportunities. Both councils are focussed on ensuring that these are maximised through a potential devolution deal for the benefit of all residents and businesses.
During the meeting, no commitments were made on any one way forward with devolution and discussions centred around options for what a potential devolution deal could look like for the region - including applying to take part in a pilot programme for a County Deal - as set out by the Prime Minister in his speech around the Government's levelling up agenda, which is a potential alternative to the previously mooted Mayoral Model.
"This is an exciting time for Hull and the East Riding and a devolution deal could unlock a multi-million-pound, strategic investment in our region," said Councillor Jonathan Owen.
"Devolution has the potential to bring a huge economic boost to the area in terms of infrastructure, transport, adult education and skills funding as well as many other benefits for our communities.
"The discussions with the Government have been positive and constructive and we will now consider the options before us and work closely with Hull City Council to explore them and make progress in terms of next steps."
Councillor Daren Hale said: "We had a very constructive discussion with the Minister and were reassured that a number of alternative options are on the table for Hull and the East Riding to work together more closely with Government to the benefit of all our residents. This includes the potential for substantial new investment in our region which can only be accessed through such a devolution partnership.
"There was a clear recognition that both Hull and East Riding Councils had worked co-operatively to be part of a wider deal within either Yorkshire or the Humber, but this had not come to fruition due to the decision making of other local authorities. Both Hull and the East Riding have a tradition of joint working around areas of common interest.
"We will now carefully consider what the Minister said and work with the East Riding to assess what works best for us and how we can take that forward."
Both Leaders would like to thank the Minister for taking the opportunity to discuss devolution, with the councils agreeing to further discussions and continued engagement with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on this important issue.