Devolution deal takes another step forward
The Government has agreed to “move forward to unlock” the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.
But there will be a reduced devolution deal if Barnsley and Doncaster later decide to leave Sheffield City Region (SCR) and join a separate Yorkshire-wide group.
James Brokenshire MP, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, has responded to a deal put forward by SCR Mayor Dan Jarvis and the four council leaders.
In a letter, Mr Brokenshire says: “Thank you for your letter about how we might together move forward to unlock the SCR devolution deal.
“I welcome your commitment to the SCR deal and that you have all come together and put forward what you believe to be a pragmatic solution for now implementing the deal and bringing investment to the area.
“That has always been a priority for us in Government. We are ready to consider a localist approach to devolution elsewhere across Yorkshire, if that is wanted locally, and I recognise the strength of Yorkshire identity.
“I also recognise that your proposal for councils in the SCR being free after 2020 to join an alternative devolution group is broadly in step with the approach envisioned by my predecessor in 2017.
“This was that in future, subject to certain provisos, councils would be free to leave the City Region and join an alternative wider Yorkshire devolution deal.”
Mr Brokenshire adds that if any of the councils later leave SCR, there will be a reduced devolution deal.
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He says: “In principal, if you and all your councils now consent, we are prepared to implement the deal with an understanding that after 2020 those councils that do not see their future in the City Region should be free to join an alternative wider Yorkshire devolution group, leaving the SCR with a commensurately reduced devolution deal.”
Mr Jarvis said it was a positive response and represented “an important step” towards the devolution of further powers and resources to communities across the region.
He said: “It is however, important to remember that devolution is a process, not an event. The Secretary of State’s letter provides the basis for further dialogue, with leaders locally and nationally and the opportunity to make further progress.
“Pragmatism, compromise, and a commitment to do the best for the people we represent will continue to be required on all sides.
“While those discussions take place, I’m getting on with the job. Using the soft powers of my Mayoralty, I’m driving forward real changes that have the power to improve the lives and prospects of people from all our communities.”
Sheffield Council Leader Julie Dore said: ‘This appears to be a positive response from the government to the proposals we put forward and hopefully the South Yorkshire deal can now be implemented.”
Mr Jarvis and Active Travel Commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey, will host an inaugural Transport Conference this week to showcase an “ambitious vision” for transport across the region.