A move by the region's two councils to create a combined authority led by a directly-elected mayor without first consulting residents on the idea is being criticised by some councillors.

A proposed timetable for putting the new body the place was included in a joint submission made last September to the government by Hull City Council and East Riding Council.

It includes a target date of March 31 this year for a signed agreement on a devolution deal between Whitehall and the two councils.

A central part of the deal would be the creation of a new combined authority led by the region's first elected mayor overseeing strategic issues such as transport, economic development and flood risk.

However, the indicative timetable suggests public consultation on the new-look authority will start three months later at the end of June.

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Liberal Democrat opposition leader David Nolan at East Riding Council's meeting on Wednesday, October 7.
Liberal Democrat opposition leader David Nolan speaking at an East Riding Council meeting

Under the plan, the authority will be formally established in early 2021 with the mayoral election taking place in May next year.

But opposition councillors in the East Riding and Hull are questioning why people are not being given a say until after devolution deal is signed off.

Councillor David Nolan, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on East Riding Council, said the results of an online public poll on the issue carried out by his party showed a big majority against the idea.

So far, 338 residents taken part in the poll with 82.5 per cent currently against.

He said: "The clear message is that residents don't want a joint mayor. They see it as creating another layer of politicians at council taxpayers' expense.

"Residents in East Riding and Hull are saying their must be more important things to spend money on, especially during a pandemic.

"Signing a deal and then consulting them afterwards is a sham consultation. The public are not stupid."

The East Riding Lib Dems say powers and funding currently held by Whitehall which are expected to form part of the devolution deal should instead be given directly to the two councils which will continue to run existing services.

On average, similar city-region mayors receive an average annual allowance of £84,000. An allowance for the new Hull and East Riding mayor has yet to be determined.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham

Examples of other city-region mayors include Andy Burham in Greater Manchester and Dan Jarvis in Sheffield.

Voters in Leeds and surrounding council areas are expected to asked to choose their first city-region mayor later this year.

Councillor John Fareham, leader of the opposition Conservative group in Hull, said: "This is another move towards centralisation with a combined authority being discussed by two leaders and a few civil servants behind closed doors.

"If it is a good idea, and it may well be, then we should believe the people will see it as one and have those discussions openly. If it is not a good idea, the lessons of the Humberside era tell us people will not embrance it.

"I always believe we serve the public. We are not unaccountable and remote. I trust people, I trust the judgement of communities I live in so let us listen to them."

He said councillors in Hull were also being denied the chance to debate the issue after this month's scheduled full council meeting was cancelled because of the current Covid lockdown.