Rotherham council leader urged to reconsider approach to One Yorkshire devolution

The leader of Rotherham council has been urged to reconsider his 'apparent reluctance' to join a wider Yorkshire devolution deal.

22 May 2018......  Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party.  Picture Tony Johnson.
22 May 2018...... Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party. Picture Tony Johnson.

Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in a letter to Chris Read that the recent Sheffield City Region mayoral election showed people in Rotherham favour a ‘One Yorkshire’ deal.

The letter, seen by The Yorkshire Post, said that candidates who were “unequivocally in favour of abandoning the Sheffield City Region and supporting One Yorkshire” got a majority of the votes cast.

He added: “The Government asked the people of Yorkshire for a bottom up approach when it came to a devolution settlement. The people have shown their preferred option in various ballots.

Leader of Rotherham council Chris Read

“We should now be taking the One Yorkshire option (including Rotherham) to James Brokenshire and asking him to move on a deal as soon as possible.

“If you think we are wrong let’s debate it publicly. Now the lid has been lifted on this issue the people of Rotherham will be hugely interested in where we go from here, especially if their recently expressed and preferred option continues to be ignored.”

Dan Jarvis was elected as Sheffield City Region mayor this month, but will have virtually no powers or funding due to a failure to agree a devolution deal for the county.

Sheffield and Rotherham want to press ahead with the £30m a year devolution deal agreed in 2015, but Doncaster and Barnsley want to pursue a region-wide deal.

In response, Coun Read said: “My position has not changed at all. I would describe Stewart’s views as ‘confirmation bias’. I don’t think the vote reflected people’s views about a regional devolution deal. The argument from the Yorkshire Party people and some others is a bit disingenuous.

“I am quite supportive of the strategy Dan Jarvis set out in his manifesto. Dan said we need to bank that money for South Yorkshire now, to extend that deal as widely as we can to get as many benefits for as many people as possible, and at the same time explore whether a wider deal can can be done.

“Dan Jarvis says a Yorkshire-wide deal is a great prize, I am still to be convinced it is a great prize but at no stage have we said we will never agree to it.”

On the subject of reaching an agreement on the South Yorkshire deal, he said: “The conversations are ongoing as you would expect, we continue to try and find a way through it.”