Theresa May urged to "engage personally with the substance" of One Yorkshire devolution plans

Theresa May was urged in the Commons today to "engage personally with the substance" of proposals for a One Yorkshire devolution deal.

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 1:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 7:57 pm
Theresa May at PMQs today. PA pic.

During Prime Minister's Questions Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis pressed Mrs May on the issue of the transfer of powers and resources to Yorkshire from Whitehall, following the Government's rejection of the One Yorkshire plan last month.

No devolution deal has yet been implemented in Yorkshire and Mr Jarvis was elected as Sheffield City Region mayor last year with virtually no powers after talks between local authorities broke down.

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His comments came as Wakefield council leader Peter Box urged his fellow political leaders to start considering alternatives to the One Yorkshire proposals.

He said that during a meeting with Communities Secretary James Brokenshire at Fountains Abbey on Friday, the Minister made it clear the Government would not support such a region-wide deal.

Coun Box said: "Whilst he did agree to a future meeting, my understanding is that this meeting would be to consider alternatives to the One Yorkshire proposal.

"It has also become clear that the government would quickly agree to either a Leeds City Region or a West Yorkshire devolution deal, either of which would unlock hundreds of millions of pounds."

Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis

In response, Carl Les, Tory leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: "We understand that Peter is determined to achieve devolution. We all are.

"Peter acknowledges that the long-term ambition is One Yorkshire, the challenge is how quickly we achieve that ambition.

"We made this ambition very clear to the Secretary of State on Friday. It was also agreed at that meeting that interim arrangements alongside our One Yorkshire ambition should be explored with the Government.

"We look forward to the conclusion of these ongoing discussions and the provision of the powers and resources that every part of Yorkshire requires and deserves."

Labour MP Mr Jarvis told the Commons: "Amid the noise of the Brexit debate there is a real risks we lose sight of the reasons why so many people voted to leave in the first place.

"I think if we want to restore faith and trust we need to devolve more political decision-making away from Whitehall and closer to the people who will be affected by those decisions.

"So following on from the very constructive meeting that took place at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire with the Communities and Local Government Secretary and the Yorkshire leaders on Friday, can I ask the Prime Minister personally to engage with the substance of the One Yorkshire devolution deal with a view to reaching an agreement that will best serve the people of Yorkshire."

Responding, Mrs May said: "I think he is a living example of devolution of powers from this Whitehall to the areas through the mayoralty he is serving.

"On the issue of Yorkshire devolution we recognise the discussion and debate there has been on the issue.

"The One Yorkshire proposals did not meet our criteria for devolution but the Communities Secretary has met Yorkshire leaders, discussions are continuing, but the priority has been the implementation of the agreed Sheffield City Region deal which will bring £900m of investment to the area, which I'm sure he will welcome."