Local leaders in Yorkshire have presented the Prime Minister with new proposals to ‘urgently unlock’ the benefits of devolution by opening the way to a single devolution deal for the county.
Plans for a ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution deal were rejected by the Government in February after then Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said they did ‘not meet our devolution criteria’.
In May, a devolution deal for south Yorkshire was reached – the Sheffield City Region deal –, which was offered in 2015 but then blocked by Barnsley and Doncaster MBCs, both of whom wanted a deal for the whole of Yorkshire.
The new One Yorkshire proposals call for a series of interim devolution deals agreed across Yorkshire to run in parallel with the existing Sheffield City Region agreement.
These interim deals would see a One Yorkshire devolution agreement completed by 2022, the end of the Sheffield City Region mayor’s term. At this point, any authority wishing to join the wider deal would be free to do so.
There would also be an interim deal done in Leeds City Region and deals for each sub region to ‘maximise the post-Brexit opportunity and the impact of the Local Industrial Strategies.’
In their letter to the PM, the One Yorkshire leaders said that the deal fitted the Government’s plans to give greater powers to council leaders and communities.
‘Devolution in Yorkshire is critical to deliver our shared objectives, which cross political divides and are about growth in a post-Brexit world,’ they said.
‘It aligns to your stated priorities of more investment in desperately needed transport and full fibre digital infrastructure, increase inward investment and help our companies export, deliver more houses to meet the acute shortage across the county, quicken the progress we are making in sustainable energy generation and carbon capture, better address the skills shortages in our workforce, and critically, help tackle deprivation, both urban and rural, wherever it exists in our communities.’
An independent economic study, cited by the One Yorkshire leaders, has shown a One Yorkshire devolution deal could deliver economic benefits worth £30bn a year or £5,400 per person.