Thursday 22 June 2023

THE LEADERS of East Riding and Hull City councils have agreed to hold talks with the Government to look at the option of an elected Mayor as part of a new devolution deal. Beverley FM has previously reported how the new Leader of East Riding Council, Cllr Anne Handley, had come out publicly supporting the idea – now a joint approach is being formulated.

A combined authority deal would involve the two councils working together on strategic issues such as economic investment and transport, but the delivery of day-to-day services would remain the responsibility of each individual authority.  The option to include a mayor as part of a devolution deal would potentially see the East Riding and Hull, representing East Yorkshire, secure more funding from central Government and would give each authority and the public more say in where the money was best spent.

The two authorities are the last in Yorkshire without a deal and the new leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Councillor Anne Handley, said: “We need to start delivering the best possible deal for the people of the East Riding and Hull and that means getting more money and more powers to improve the lives of local people.

“And that sentiment is shared too with Councillor Mike Ross, the leader of Hull City Council, and both our elected members and officers are now exploring what we can achieve with a mayoral authority.

“No deal is yet on the table as it’s very early days but conversations will continue between the two authorities as we’re both committed to delivering the very best for our residents.”

Councillor Mike Ross, leader, Hull City Council, said: “It is widely accepted that there has been little, if any, progress in getting a devolution deal for the city which sets Hull back compared to many other cities of the same size across the country.

“The Government is clear that to get the best possible deal on offer, the mayoral model is their preferred approach.

“While there is still a lot of work to do, agreeing to consider what Hull and the East Riding can get out of a mayoral deal does at least move the discussion on.

“Ultimately the best interests of Hull will be a paramount in the consideration of any deal.”

Thomas Martin, chairman of the business engagement board that represented the interests of coastal, rural organisations in the area, was supportive of the new proposals.

He said: “Progressing a devolution deal is absolutely the right thing to do, but firstly I need to acknowledge the courage of our two local authority leaders, who in stepping forward together have parked individual politics, as both recognise this opportunity for our region as a whole.

“Both leaders understand that we simply cannot stay isolated forever – the world is already moving on around us and as other parts of the UK take jobs, investments and economic strategies that should be developed right here in East Yorkshire.”

Previously the two councils seemed set on a devolution deal which would involve the switching of power between the two authorities annually, with no elected Mayor.

WORK on transforming Beverley Treasure House is hoped to start in September. The £3.3 million scheme includes a new customer service centre and enhanced library and a new location within the building for the reference library, while the council’s registration services will relocate there from Walkergate House. There will be a new Changing Places facility, and Champney Gardens will also be landscaped. 

The new complex will be known as the Champney Treasure House, after John Champney, a Beverley businessman and benefactor, who made his fortune in the textile industry. He donated money for the Beverley Public Library and in 1929 he bequeathed numerous paintings to the Art Gallery’s collection – mainly works by contemporary British artists.

During the construction period, the whole of the Treasure House will be closed for a period of up to a year. Beverley Library will be temporarily relocated across the road in County Hall, and the Tourist Information Centre will be temporarily moved to the Customer Service Centre. East Riding Archives will be available online for a variety of enquiries and requests for document copies. Regular updates, including online content, will be available from Beverley Art Gallery, including ‘behind the scenes’ collection projects and planning for future displays and exhibitions, continuing the work of the Art Gallery during the closure period.

Services provided at the current register office at Walkergate House will remain unchanged until the work is completed. Anyone planning a register office wedding in Beverley for 2024 and beyond should talk to Registrar staff who can advise about the excellent facilities that will be available in the new Champney Treasure House.

In the autumn, work is expected to start on an attractive landscaping scheme in the gardens to complement the new-look building, designed to make the gardens a more attractive and welcoming place to visit for everyone.

As the new building will house the town’s register office, the gardens will become an ideal location for wedding groups and for photographs to be taken.

The upgrade will include many new seating areas, a sundial, and new pergolas – one for residents to walk through with climbing foliage overhead – and the others providing ideal seating areas.

The garden is also aimed at improving the environment with plenty of new planting and bedding, a biodiverse lawn, areas designed to encourage insects and wildlife, new sights and scents on offer, and also an information board to explain the history of the gardens.

Before the closure, Beverley Art Gallery is currently hosting the touring exhibition, ‘Matisse- Drawing with Scissors’ until 1 July, and will then host ‘Brick Journeys’, an exhibition for the whole family from 15 July until 26 August. All other services and facilities in the Treasure House will continue as normal until the closure, including events in Beverley Library.

Councillor Anne Handley, leader of the council, said: “The Champney Treasure House scheme is aimed at improving the library in Beverley and creating a new cultural hub for the town, whilst also rationalising our assets and getting better value for money for our residents. It will be largely funded by the sale of our buildings in Cross Street and Walkergate House.

“We will significantly improve Champney Gardens, and offer excellent facilities in a new location for customers and staff of our registration services. I look forward to seeing these wonderful new facilities at the completion of the project.”

IT’S BEEN confirmed that Beverley MP Graham Stuart didn’t vote on the Boris Johnson privileges committee report when it came before Parliament this week.