OPINION: Devolution dithering means Yorkshire misses out on dosh

By Simon Crowe

AS YORKSHIRE councils continue to bicker over what devolution deal suits God’s Own County the best, the result is that Yorkshire is missing out on crucial Government investment.

Yorkshire MPs and councils are letting the region down after a catalogue of failures surrounding the issue of devolution.

Since George Osborne announced in 2015 plans to devolve government powers to regions, Yorkshire has been stagnant whilst places such as Greater Manchester, Liverpool and West Midlands all now have devolved powers.

There have been six different devolution proposals from the Yorkshire region with only one of them being approved by Government, that being the Sheffield City Region which was been backed by Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.

It has been reported since that Barnsley and Doncaster councils have pulled their support from the Sheffield City Region deal in favour of a pan-Yorkshire deal.

That deal was the One Yorkshire deal, which looked the most promising for the region, bringing Yorkshire together as a whole.

The One Yorkshire deal was backed by 17 of the 20 Yorkshire councils with just Sheffield, Rotherham and Wakefield councils not supporting the deal.

With Doncaster and Barnsley councils effectively withdrawing their support for the Sheffield City Region deal which had already been approved, the Government still wishes to go ahead with plans with just Sheffield and Rotherham.

Stewart Arnall, leader of The Yorkshire Party said: “I don’t really understand why the Government is persisting with a devolution deal which is going to be in effect two local authorities with very limited powers and very limited money – it’s going to look like a white elephant.”

Nigel Sollitt the chair of the Yorkshire Devolution Movement shares Arnall’s confusion on the Government’s persistence with the proposal.

“You’ll have a Sheffield City Region that half of Sheffield city region don’t want to be a part of and that’s only talking about the council leaders. If you actually talk about the people none of them want it – they all want One Yorkshire,” he said.

Arnall believes this is a result of party politics: “If there is a One Yorkshire deal which includes South Yorkshire, then the Conservatives won’t win it, they won’t win the mayor.”

And Sollitt summed up the whole Yorkshire Devolution process: “So far the Yorkshire people have actually been excluded from the conversation.

“It has just been national political elites talking to local political elites and the people have just been pushed out of it really, and they need to have a say. I know for a fact if they did have a say they’d say One Yorkshire.”

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