Councils defy government by pressing ahead with vetoed ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution plan

Yorkshire leaders look ready to defy the government’s devolution stance after voicing disappointment with communities secretary James Brokenshire’s response earlier this week to their ‘One Yorkshire’ proposal.

In a statement following its meeting, representative group Yorkshire Leaders – made up of the 18 local authorities supporting the proposed devo plan, which comprise all in the region except for Sheffield City Council and Rotherham MBC – said that the government issued just a three-paragraph letter in response to the detailed proposal.

They argued that Brokenshire just placed obstacles to achieving a devolution settlement and did not address the details of the proposal itself.

The statement also confirmed that Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region mayor, should be a member of the Yorkshire Leaders group.

“The One Yorkshire proposal has the cross-party support of 18 authorities and the mayor of the Sheffield City Region, ready to deliver a devolution deal right now which would offer huge benefits for the region and the wider UK economy,” the statement explained. “With the constructive support of the government, an agreement can be in place and a mayor for One Yorkshire elected by 2020.”

The One Yorkshire deal was put forward earlier this year after a long and difficult process of getting authorities onboard. In a letter to former secretary of state Sajid Javid, the councils said that in response to his call for a concrete proposal, they had formulated a detailed plan developed over several months.

But the government is refusing to accept the deal, emphasising that any further devolution must first wait for the Sheffield City Region deal to be implemented.

Other leaders also disagree with the idea, with Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese recently arguing at a Centre for Cities event that “the One Yorkshire plan is about nostalgia, not economic reality.”

But in a clear act of defiance against the government’s position, the Yorkshire Leaders statement said they are “clear that they stand together – united to deliver One Yorkshire working with a constructive partner in government.”

“Yorkshire Leaders have tasked officers with continuing to develop the One Yorkshire plan in line with the demands set out by the government and expect the government to respond with a constructive approach and rapid progress in the coming weeks and months,” the statement added.

“They invited the government to be involved in the economic study of the rationale behind the One Yorkshire proposition which is being undertaken now and will be completed in the coming months. They also stated their willingness to travel together to London at any time to progress discussions with ministers.”

The 19 council chiefs are now calling on the government “to help meet its own conditions” by accelerating the delivery of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal “whilst assuring those who want to join One Yorkshire that option will be available to them as early as 2020.”

Top image c. Andrew Linscott


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