DEVOLUTION: Sheffield, Rotherham and Wakefield stay focused on real deal

Coun Peter Box CBE, leader of Wakefield Council
Coun Peter Box CBE, leader of Wakefield Council
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The leader of Wakefield Council has joined Sheffield and Rotherham in refusing to join a pan-Yorkshire devolution campaign - to focus on an existing offer from Government.

Coun Peter Box supports a Leeds City Region deal, believing it will lead to the ‘biggest economic growth in the shortest time’.

Yorkshire council leaders including Ros Jones and Sir Steve Houghton

Yorkshire council leaders including Ros Jones and Sir Steve Houghton

But it has stalled due to disagreements. Now, 17 of Yorkshire’s 20 council leaders are hoping to leapfrog those problems with pan-Yorkshire devolution.

The list includes the leaders of Barnsley and Doncaster who are set to walk away from a deal in Sheffield City Region - without saying why.

Sheffield and Rotherham councils remain focused on the agreement they all signed up to in October 2015, for £900m, devolved powers and a metro mayor.

The chief executives of South Yorkshire’s four councils attended a meeting with senior civil servants at the Department for Communities and Local Government this week.

They were informed of the legal consequences of failing to sign up to the SCR deal. A regional mayor would be elected to preside over the Combined Authority of leaders, but would have no powers or new money.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the Government’s focus for devolution is on major cities. And although he would look at a pan-Yorkshire approach, “Sheffield would need to be at the table.”

Coun Peter Box CBE, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We want the best for Wakefield and still believe that a Leeds City Region devolution deal is the one that will lead to the biggest economic growth for Wakefield in the shortest time. However, we will continue talking to and engaging with colleagues who hold different views.

“There has been no formal feedback from Government on this and Wakefield remains open to talking to all colleagues about the different deals that could devolve power from central Government.”

The 17 Yorkshire council leaders met last week and agreed to continue campaigning.

In a statement they said: “All leaders present, including those from Barnsley and Doncaster, once again supported this ambitious approach to devolution, unanimously agreeing this to be the most effective way to build an inclusive economy within Yorkshire that works for all.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said in a letter to MPs that an Sheffield City Region deal ‘in no way precludes’ agreeing a settlement in Yorkshire at a later date. Campaigners believe a successful SCR deal is more likely to lead to Yorkshire devolution.