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Yorkshire councils form ‘coalition of the willing’ to push full devo deal

A group of 17 councils in Yorkshire have this week declared their ambition to unite behind a renewed devolution deal for the whole of the county.

In a statement, the councils said that leaders had unanimously agreed to form a “coalition of the willing” to push towards a deal that involves the whole area.

Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal involved councils in South Yorkshire, but not the whole of Yorkshire. However, the deal has faced a number of setbacks in the last year, as in July a decision on devolution plans was put on hold until September, and a month before two councils decided to withdraw their interest in the deal.

The coalition of Yorkshire councils who made the declaration yesterday, on Yorkshire day, includes Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hambleton, Harrogate, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and York.

“Today is Yorkshire Day and therefore it seems right to talk today about our county, its ambitions and our identity,” a statement read. “The county is big enough and bold enough to want to carve out its own destiny.

“The leaders agreed unanimously to form a ‘coalition of the willing’, working towards securing a single ambitious devolution deal for the Yorkshire authorities and areas wanting to work together on this basis.

“This would in the first instance be based on the government’s present requirements of a directly elected mayor with clear responsibilities yet to be determined.

“All leaders present, including Barnsley and Doncaster, supported this approach as well as supporting a deal for Sheffield and Rotherham, should they seek to pursue that as an option.”

Leaders from the councils also added that there were plans to meet again in September to discuss how negotiations would be taken further forward.

Sheffield confirms commitment to south Yorkshire devo

But councils in Rotherham and Sheffield were not involved in the coalition. In a statement, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council Cllr Olivia Blake said that the authority was still committed to delivering the only deal that was on the table – the deal for South Yorkshire signed in October 2015.

“Our view as Sheffield City Council is clear: we will always do what is right for Sheffield and South Yorkshire,” she commented.

“That means concluding the deal that is available to us – a deal that is set to bring £900m to our region, to grow our economy, create jobs and boost people’s skills.

“We continue to be in favour of both formal and informal collaboration across the north, on those issues where it makes sense to do so.”

Cllr Blake added that Sheffield City Council continued to be committed participants in Transport for the North, which is making the case to government for much needed transport investment to better connect the great cities of the north – not just those in Yorkshire.

“We understand that other parts of Yorkshire are frustrated that they have not been able make a deal, and we hope that government will work with other authorities,” she said.

“But we have a deal on the table and we look forward to getting back to business at the meeting in September and delivering devolution worth £900m for South Yorkshire.”

Despite the new call from the councils, Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry recently asserted that the South Yorkshire deal was the only deal that would be considered by DCLG, saying: “I want to be very clear about one thing. There will not be a ‘full Yorkshire’ devolution deal.

“Yorkshire is a fantastic brand. But devolution is about giving control to cities.”

Top Image: Craven District Council

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