Most Yorkshire councils unite in joint devolution bid

6 Mar 18

All but two councils in historic Yorkshire have signed up to a call for devolution to the entire region.

They have said that a wide-ranging package of powers should be devolved to an elected mayor and combined authority.

The move follows a tortuous process in which a limited devolution deal took effect for the Leeds city region but progress was stymied by the refusal of North Yorkshire County Council to cede any of its transport powers over adjacent districts to the city region.

Meanwhile councils in South Yorkshire sought their own devolution deal based on Sheffield – which became mired in disputes about whether parts of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire should join – and the rest of the region followed inconclusive ideas for devolved authorities.

Sheffield City Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council have not signed the letter to community secretary Sajid Javid seeking a Yorkshire-wide devolution settlement.

The ‘One Yorkshire’ bid seeks devolved powers over:

  • 19+ adult skills funding;
  • integrated business support, including export support;
  • a multi-year consolidated transport budget;
  • bus franchising;
  • power to levy and retain a supplementary business rate to finance major strategic infrastructure.

The bid also seeks powers to create development corporations and enterprise zones and a Yorkshire Land Commission to develop key sites.

One Yorkshire has also bid for ‘gainshare’ fund, worth £125m a year, similar to that in Greater Manchester, under which the region shares in the fruits of economic growth, and a 30-year investment fund worth up to £3.75bn, in line with the 30-year funds agreed with other devolved authorities.

In addition, it seeks control of a £500m housing fund, and a 100% business rate retention pilot.

In the 5 March letter to Javid, the council leaders stated: “We would wish to take up your offer for an urgent meeting to discuss the attached proposals with yourself and senior officials so that these can be taken forward swiftly.

“We believe that with your government’s support we can seal an historic devolution agreement with the potential to double the size of our economy to the benefit of the people of Yorkshire and the wider country.”

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