Devolution: double blow for deal breakers in Barnsley and Doncaster

Sir Steve Houghton and Doncaster chief executive Jo Miller.
Sir Steve Houghton and Doncaster chief executive Jo Miller.
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Two councils in the 17-strong ‘Coalition of the Willing’ have come out in favour of a Yorkshire devolution deal without Barnsley or Doncaster.

Harrogate wants to explore a West, East and North Yorkshire deal - and its leader urged South Yorkshire councils to seize their deal “with both hands.”

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Carl Les, said he would continue to fight for the largest geography possible, “but if it can’t be One Yorkshire then we should consider the ‘Rest of Yorkshire’ without Sheffield City Region.”

The move is a blow to the two authorities who backed out of Sheffield City Region’s £900m deal. The Government insists no council from South Yorkshire can join a wider Yorkshire proposal.

Barnsley leader Sir Steve Houghton earlier said he was prepared to wait for a bigger prize.

But Harrogate leader Richard Cooper said it was time to move forward without them.

He said: “It is understandable and logical that the Government expects their deal agreed with South Yorkshire to stand.

“It is the best deal offered in the North of England and South Yorkshire authorities should grasp that opportunity with both hands.

“Now we in the rest of Yorkshire need to take our opportunity to move forward with a devolution deal that will bring investment, jobs and greater economic growth to our area. I believe that a devolution deal should encompass North, East and West Yorkshire. The Government too has signalled its interest in such a proposal.

“Taking that opportunity which government has presented to us will provide more cash for our area, attract business to invest here and grow here and ensure our economy forges ahead as part of the Northern Powerhouse.

“We have talked for long enough. It’s time to get on with it.”