Yorkshire devolution: Council leaders hold 'good-natured and constructive' talks with Minister Jake Berry

Council leaders in West Yorkshire have held 'open, good-natured and constructive' talks with a Government Minister over devolution in the region.

The county’s five council leaders travelled to London yesterday to meet with Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, who also this week met their counterparts from Hull and the East Riding.

It comes as a senior business figure in South Yorkshire said his county had lost an ‘enormous amount of credibility’ due to the ongoing stalemate on devolution in the county.

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In an email sent to South Yorkshire metro mayor Dan Jarvis, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce director Richard Wright said the ‘inability to get on with a devolution deal’ is costing the region £70m a year.

The four South Yorkshire leaders signed the Sheffield City Region devolution deal back in 2015.

But Barnsley and Doncaster pulled out last year and opted to back a One Yorkshire deal supported by 18 of the region’s 20 local authority leaders. Due to the deadlock, Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis was elected mayor with little powers and no devolved cash.

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Yesterday’s meeting with West Yorkshire leaders is one of three set up by Mr Berry’s office for leaders to give their views. Earlier this year supporters of One Yorkshire submitted a detailed economic document to Ministers, setting out the potential economic boost from handing powers and resources to a region-wide mayor.

Mr Berry said he was considering the document and will respond with questions in due course, but will not formally entertain the proposal until the Sheffield City Region deal has been fully implemented.

He is understood to have told leaders that there is not enough time to make the changes necessary to implement a One Yorkshire mayor in 2020, as hoped for by local leaders, and that 2022 is more realistic.

A statement by West Yorkshire leaders said: “Today’s meeting was an open, good-natured and constructive discussion. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with Ministers about our devolution ambitions for the people of Yorkshire along with our fellow leaders of the 18 One Yorkshire councils.”