YORKSHIRE COUNCIL leaders have told the Government they have a “credible” plan to take over powers and money from Whitehall through a new elected mayor for the region.
The 17 leaders signed up to the One Yorkshire proposal have asked Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid for a meeting to “progress talks”.
Their letter is the latest sign of the growing momentum behind the One Yorkshire proposal to bring an end to the region’s devolution deadlock.
The letter to Mr Javid says the proposal is “capable of maximising growth across the region, delivering on the Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda and achieving the support of wider stakeholders throughout Yorkshire”.
The letter says: “We understand the complexities involved but the scale, power, identity and brand attached to Yorkshire means this is the locally led devolution solution we wish to pursue to conclusion with Government.”
Speaking at last night’s full council meeting, Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said having 17 councils sign up, and the momentum the Yorkshire Day announcement has gathered, had reaffirmed hopes that a deal would be forthcoming.
Coun Blake told colleagues at Leeds Civic Hall: “We have written to Sajid Javid requesting an urgent meeting so that we can actually explore the opportunities this presents us. We are waiting for a meeting with Government to help us move this forward. We believe it’s the best way to make sure we get a devolution deal that gives us the power and resource that we need.”
The 17 signatories to the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” include Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton and Doncaster elected mayor Ros Jones. They have come under pressure to drop their interest in One Yorkshire and push ahead with the Sheffield City Region deal they have already agreed in partnership with Sheffield and Rotherham. The fate of the Sheffield City Region deal, which continues to have the support of Rotherham and Sheffield, is set to be decided at a meeting on Monday.
Coun Blake stressed that having two of the South Yorkshire authorities on board to explore the possibility of “a Yorkshire footprint” gave the renewed One Yorkshire drive additional momentum.
‘IT’S VITAL FOR BETTER BUSES’
Councillor David Blackburn, leader of the Green group at Leeds City Council, said a Yorkshire devolution deal would be vital to galvanizing much-needed improvements to the bus network. He told last night’s full council meeting: “I hope we can get this devolution [deal] going, and that we can persuade Government to change its view so that we can franchise bus services. We have got to have some power to directly operate the buses.” And Lib Dem Sandy Lay added: “Our buses are shocking. Franchising is the only way to take back control of our bus services.”