LOCAL Government Secretary Greg Clark has urged cities not to accept watered down devolution deals to try and avoid adopting elected mayors.
The Government is in negotiations over devolving significant authority in areas such as planning and transport to parts of Yorkshire but has insisted any major transfer of powers must be put in the hands of elected mayors.
Mr Clark, who is taking a leading role in the discussions, told MPs: “I think we do need to be ambitious for our cities.
“I would be very disappointed if any of our great cities - and we are negotiating with several of them in an advanced state at the moment - I wouldn’t want them to settle for less than the deals we are prepared to make to take powers from this place and vest them in our great cities.
“I think we need that revivial of civic leadership in our cities.”
Mr Clark also offered hope to Yorkshire council leaders lobbying for devolution deals covering areas beyond the region’s major cities and their immediate neighbours.
The Minister said cities were not the “whole story” and rural areas have a “big contribution to make.”
He also played down disagreements between councils ignited by the devolution process including in Yorkshire where five different plans have been submited to the Government.
Mr Clark said: “I think one of the real striking developments in recent years has been the recognition that when neighbours pull together and recognise they have a lot in common and put aside their differences they can make much more progress than might have been first thought possible.”