'If this was a Leeds takeover, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole' - Mayor Dan Jarvis on future Yorkshire devolution proposal
South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis has rubbished claims a wider Yorkshire devolution deal is a 'Leeds takeover'.
Speaking after the launch of the health-led employment trial with minister Sarah Newton, he said 'quite a lot of people in Sheffield' think a 'One Yorkshire' proposal is a 'takeover' by the West Yorkshire city.
He reiterated three times he 'wouldn't touch' the proposed county-wide deal 'with a barge pole' if that was the case.
Mayor Jarvis said he had spoke to his late friend and former West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox that there was 'not enough co-operation' between South and West Yorkshire and added the rivalry between Sheffield and Leeds was only fine for football.
Mr Jarvis, who heads up the Sheffield City Region, includes Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley. The four authorities are currently at deadlock on how the region should proceed with the prospect of devolved powers and cash.
All four South Yorkshire leaders signed the Sheffield City Region devolution deal back in 2015 with the then Chancellor George Osborne.
But Doncaster and Barnsley staged a U-turn and opted to support a wider Yorkshire deal. Both authorities have said signing the Sheffield City Region deal would be a stepping-stone towards a bigger county-wide plan and want assurances they can do this.
Sheffield and Rotherham want to sign the current offer before discussing the prospect of a Yorkshire deal.
Last month, Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire penned a letter to all the region's 20 councils, 18 of which support a 'One Yorkshire' devolution deal, to say the Government is 'not prepared' to discuss the proposals if they include any of the authorities which make up the Sheffield City Region.
Mayor Jarvis said: "I wouldn't make any assumption that any Yorkshire combined authority is centred around Leeds. Quite a lot of people in Sheffield take the view that this is some takeover by Leeds.
"If I thought that was the case, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. People shouldn't make the assumption that this is some sort of Leeds takeover - it's about the collective strength of Yorkshire and if South Yorkshire choose to engage with that, we could be a massive force within the wider deal.
"For a very long time, you can call it a rivalry and a kind of antipathy between the two big cities of Sheffield and Leeds. But we've got to get serious about our future - when it comes to football, that's fine.
"There will be challenges and opportunities from leaving the European Union - whether if that's part of a wider devolution deal or not, we need to work together better between South and West Yorkshire.
"I used to discuss this with my dear friend Jo Cox that there was not enough co-operation between the two areas. The old capital of the West Riding wasn't Leeds, it was Wakefield.
"It would be extremely ill-judged if we got to a wider deal that it would be centred around Leeds - it's a great city but so is Sheffield. Yorkshire is a great place and it has the scale and the diversity which makes it so great."