Great Britain

Government ‘plans to make York England’s second city’ by moving thousands of Whitehall staff from London


THE Government could make York England’s second city by moving thousands of Whitehall staff from London.

Departments have two weeks to submit plans to relocate officials from the capital into regional “hubs” around the country - with the northern city top of the list. 

The plans are “pretty serious” - with officials even starting to look at property in the area, a source told The Times.

The move is part of a renewed push to relocate the House of Lords to the city.

Plans to move the second chamber to York were revealed in January and senior figures have said it is still “very much on the agenda”. 

And the historic city could now also see thousands of Whitehall staff. 

The source added: “It’s not just the House of Lords. Senior civil servants who are close to decision-making are already looking at Rightmove to see what they can buy for the cost of a terraced house in East Dulwich. And they like it. 

“They are looking at substantial Edwardian villas in Harrogate.”

Another source familiar with the discussions said: “The Lords is a major thing. But there could be lots of stuff. 

“The step change will be to move everything other than the secretary of state and private office or an entire directorate.”

No final decisions have been made but ministers hope to create several regional “hubs” of civil servants.

The Treasury is also looking at a new base on Teesside which, together with York, would create a northern centre for policymakers. 

The west Midlands is also being considered as a hub for government activity.

One Downing Street official told The Times: “The PM is genuinely really, really keen on this and it’s not just York.

“The question is how quickly you do it.”

York is well-placed with good transport links between the city, London and Edinburgh.

The journey from the capital will be less than an hour and a half once HS2 is complete.

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