Tuesday, August 1, 2017

News: Leaders meet to discuss Yorkshire-wide devolution

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The leaders of Rotherham and Sheffield Councils did not join leaders from 17 other authorities who met to agree to the development of a "single ambitious devolution deal for the Yorkshire."

Last month, political leaders in the Sheffield city region (SCR) decided to defer making a decision until September on their own devolution deal and Cllr. Sir Steve Houghton stepped down temporarily from his role as Chair of the combined authority to avoid any possible conflicts of interest whilst Barnsley explores all other possible devolution options.

One option is devolution on a Yorkshire-wide scale and Yorkshire council leaders met last week and have agreed to work together. Leaders from Barnsley and Doncaster attended the meeting and supported the approach as well as supporting a deal for Sheffield and Rotherham.

The £900m SCR devolution deal includes a new gain share deal within an envelope of £30m a year for 30 years – giving the SCR the power to use new funding to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation. In return, the Government will require a directly elected mayor to hold accountability for the new powers.

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Earlier in the year, Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, gave his backing to the SCR deal. He said: "There is much speculation about other devolution deals, and other geographical arrangements, but there is only one devolution deal on the table anywhere in Yorkshire and it is the one that we negotiated alongside our closest local authorities - those with communities most like ours.

"My view remains that if we are to ever achieve the devolution of powers, and more importantly of spending, that we seek in order to promote jobs and strengthen our economy then the most likely way of achieving that is through a deal very much like the one that we negotiated before.

"Of course circumstances may change - and if they do then we would need to re-examine our response and I will bring that information to members - but our analysis should remain a hard-headed approach on how best we can spread opportunity and prosperity."

The 17 Yorkshire councils are now committed to exploring proposals with colleagues, local stakeholders including MPs, business, unions and political groups. Leaders plan to meet again in early September to decide how best to take this negotiation forward with Government at pace and with local backing.

Last month, Jake Berry MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: "While devolution discussions are ongoing elsewhere in Yorkshire, government remains committed to the existing South Yorkshire deal."

Images: SCR LEP


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