OPINION: South Yorkshire's devolution civil war is hurting the region and it must end now

The never ending political civil war in South Yorkshire is costing residents dear. Â

Friday, 28th September 2018, 2:52 pm
Updated Friday, 28th September 2018, 2:58 pm

Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley are missing out on free money. There is no other way to put it.

South Yorkshire has missed out on £12,115,383 - this equates to £576,923 a week.

Political leaders refuse to budge. Sheffield and Rotherham want to sign the Government-backed (and already agreed) Sheffield City Region deal (South Yorkshire).

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But Barnsley and Doncaster have opted to back a wider Yorkshire deal. Something which Government are refusing to properly entertain.

Throw in metro mayor Dan Jarvis who ultimately wants a Yorkshire-deal but at the same time is spinning various plates trying to get the Sheffield City Region deal over the line.

The result? Complete deadlock with Mr Jarvis having no real powers.  

The latest announcement from Prime Minister Theresa is they plan to hand out over £800 million in transport funding. South Yorkshire is on a shortlist with nine other regions vying for the cash.

This is fantastic news you might say.

But why has Peterborough & Cambridge and Teeside already have a slice of this money? Regions with smaller populations?

They have an elected mayor with an agreed devolution deal.

You can see where this is going. It's another cold hard reminder that this devolution deadlock is not going away.

I do have some sympathy for SCR mayor Dan Jarvis. He cannot alone force the Government or a particular council to act in one way.

A resolute politician who I once believed could have led the Labour party before the Corbyn movement.

But the main job he had when he took over as mayor was to mediate a solution and so far, he hasn't done it.

The Yorkshire-deal, spearheaded by Leeds, bangs the emotional drum for '˜God's Own County' in its call to unite under the White Rose armed with a flat cap and a pint of ale,

But the cold reality is South Yorkshire loses out and is losing out.

I'm not against a wider-deal, far from it. But every week, the drip, drip, drip of cash which should've been South Yorkshire's gets louder each week.

In an ideal world, get the current offer signed and work towards a Yorkshire deal in future.

The caveat to that is Barnsley and Doncaster want assurances they won't be locked in to a South Yorkshire deal for the long term. A position I completely understand.

This whole problem stems from the awful name choice of this regional economic and political union.

The '˜Sheffield City Region' in name alone alienates people in Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster and north midlands non-constituent members of Chesterfield and Worksop.

The cold fact is every single Government department is embroiled in Brexit panic. Devolution matters in Yorkshire are some way down on the priority list.

This isn't a call to shut the door on Yorkshire, but South Yorkshire's leaders must now come together to properly serve their electorate.