YORKSHIRE has been offered fresh hope the region will secure more control over its own affairs in the wake of David Cameron’s post-election Cabinet reshuffle.
The Prime Minister’s decision to make Greg Clark his new Communities Secretary is seen as a signal that he intends to deliver on election promises to push ahead with devolution to the North.
Local government sources in the region reacted positively to the appointment of Mr Clark who has played a key role in previous moves to give West and South Yorkshire and the Humber a bigger say in the running of areas such as skills and transport.
One described Mr Clark as an “ally” of the region while another said he “genuinely believes in decentralisation”.
However, Mr Clark is also known to be a supporter of introducing elected mayors alongside devolution, an approach underlined in the Conservatives’ election manifesto, which has proved a sticking point in previous discussions.
And with the Conservatives committed to further cuts in public spending outside protected areas, such as the health service, there is recognition that Mr Clark will also be overseeing reductions in funding to Yorkshire councils.
Mr Clark’s appointment came at the expense of former Bradford Council leader Eric Pickles who leaves the Cabinet but will take on the role of “anti-corruption tsar”.
The move was one of the most eye-catching in a reshuffle which focused on Mr Cameron filling Government jobs previously held by Liberal Democrats.
Vince Cable’s role as Business Secretary was handed to Sajid Javid whose previous job as Culture Secretary went to John Whittingdale.
Amber Rudd was appointed Energy Secretary, filling the post previously held by another defeated Lib Dem, Ed Davey.
As the fallout from the election continued, David Miliband ruled out an attempt to replace his brother, Ed, as Labour leader insisting he was committed to his role with the International Rescue Committee.
But the former Foreign Secretary did not shy away from criticising the campaign led by his brother which saw the party emerge with 26 seats fewer than 2010 and routed in Scotland by the SNP.
He said: “Both in 2010 and 2015, Gordon (Brown) and then Ed allowed themselves to be portrayed as moving backwards from the principles of aspiration and inclusion that are at the absolute heart of any successful progressive political project.
“The answer is not to go back to 1997, it’s to build on the achievements and remedy the weaknesses, but never to end up in a position where the electorate think you are going backwards rather than addressing the issues of the future.”
Describing the defeat as “devastating,” Mr Miliband added: “There’s absolutely no point in blaming the electorate. Any suggestion that they didn’t ‘get it’ is wrong.
“They didn’t want what was being offered.”