Boris Johnson to give speech in Rotherham as leaders call for devolution

Boris Johnson has been challenged to shift from “rhetoric to action” on devolution for the North ahead of a major speech in Rotherham today.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 08:58 am
Boris Johnson. (Photo credit TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Prime Minister is due to speak in front of northern political and business leaders at the the Convention of the North at Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham.

Arianna Giovannini, interim director of IPPR North said: “The fact that the Prime Minister has today indicated his support for the principle of devolution to the North is to be welcomed, but what we must see now is a shift from rhetoric to action.

“The North has seen a succession of Westminster politicians make a series of promises that they haven’t kept, and devolution to date has been too often dictated by central government. The region needs not words, but actions: spades in the ground, investments in people and infrastructure, and crucially real devolved power.”

Devolution in Yorkshire has ground to a halt after Barnsley and Doncaster pulled out of the Sheffield City Region deal they had agreed to pursue a ‘One Yorkshire’ ambition.The government has insisted the Sheffield deal goes through while encouraging Yorkshire leaders to agree smaller deals - such as Leeds City Region, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire - ahead of any wider devolution that might cover the county.Frustrated One Yorkshire leaders have campaigned for more than three years without progress.

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Organisers say the Convention of the North event in Rotherham - following on from last year's event in the North East - is set to be the biggest gathering of its kind that the country has ever seen.

olitical and business leaders from across the North, alongside young people, trade unionists, faith and community leaders, will come together for the event.

Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership Henri Murison said: “The Prime Minister needs to stand on the side of genuine devolution, with more powers for mayors like Andy Burnham, Dan Jarvis and their colleagues and deals for areas from Cheshire to much of Yorkshire which have so far missed out entirely.

“Any new growth body for the North should be accountable to and driven by those elected Mayors and civic leaders with a genuine mandate to represent the public, and have serious financial powers. The causes of the Brexit vote in the North were not so much about Europe in many places, but more about feeling a loss of control.

“If the North is to take back control it must be the Northern Powerhouse that shapes its own destiny. However much we trust Jake Berry MP as our voice at the Cabinet table, relying on Whitehall to back us and our plans to rebalance the country is not enough.

“From leading a revolution to decarbonise the country’s energy needs whilst growing our industry, backing Northern manufacturing, or closing the gap in how the most disadvantaged in our schools do, the Convention of the North will prioritise addressing productivity and unlocking economic potential. The Prime Minister should take note.”