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07.03.19

Council leader calls for authorities to rethink One Yorkshire devolution and start considering alternatives

A council leader has withdrawn his support for the One Yorkshire proposals and appealed to other authority readers to start considering alternatives after Dan Jarvis was shut down once again by the prime minister.

Peter Box, the leader of Wakefield Council, said it was time to accept the housing secretary’s decision to reject the One Yorkshire devolution deal and begin considering alternatives so that the region does not miss out on a devolution deal completely.

The government rejected the “novel” plans last month, with James Brokenshire stating “they do not meet our devolution criteria,” but did state he was open to discussion about a different approach.

After One Yorkshire demanded an urgent face-to-face meeting in response, Brokenshire met with council leaders involved in the One Yorkshire bid on 1 March, and repeated the government’s position “several times during the meeting.”

Box said: “Whilst he was unfailingly polite, the secretary of state made it absolutely clear that the government will not support a One Yorkshire devolution deal.

“Whilst he did agree to a future meeting, my understanding is that this meeting would be to consider alternatives to the One Yorkshire proposal.

This comes as Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region metro mayor, tried to restart the campaign this week during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, asking the prime minister if she would engage with the substance of the plan.

Theresa May again repeated the stance that “One Yorkshire proposals do not meet our criteria for devolution,” and urged him to instead implement the £900m Sheffield City Region deal.

In Brokenshire’s letter in February, he said discussions on a new approach were reliant on the Sheffield City Region devolution deal being completed.

Wakefield’s Box said: “It has also become clear that the government would quickly agree to either a Leeds City Region or a West Yorkshire devolution deal, either of which would unlock hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Whilst no-one would want to stifle the long-term ambition for One Yorkshire, it is apparent that we should now begin to consider alternative proposals.”

The council leader said Wakefield was not in a position to pass up the potential funding available, and hoped other colleagues would join the authority in considering what these proposals could look like.

Image credit - Owen Humphreys PA Archive

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