Hull pressing ahead with devolution plans as West Yorkshire Treasury talks begin

Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady
Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady
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HULL City Council leader Stephen Brady has insisted he will push ahead with efforts to secure a devolution deal with Yorkshire authorities despite calls for an elected mayor for the Humber.

Coun Brady said two years of efforts to secure agreement with North and North-East Lincolnshire on a mechanism for wielding powers and money devolved from Whitehall had failed to produce results.

He was responding to a letter published yesterday from three leading Humber business organisations calling for an elected mayor for the area.

Chancellor George Osborne has promised to hand significant powers to areas over their own affairs as part of his “northern powerhouse” plan to rebalance the economy.

But he has made clear he expects areas to have elected mayors as part of any deal.

The offer has triggered debates across the region over whether elected mayors, which have previously been resisted, are a price worth paying for devolution and which local authority areas should join together.

This week’s letter from the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses made clear their view that devolved power should be wielded by an elected Humber mayor.

Coun Brady said: “I have been trying for a long time across the Humber but in vain. Huge efforts were put in by Hull City Council but it didn’t transpire because the south bank of the Humber were saying they didn’t want the recreation of Humberside County County.”

He said he had already begun discussions with Yorkshire councils about joining forces to secure a single devolution deal for the whole area.

“If that’s possible, I think that would really attract the government,” he added.

A well-placed source told The Yorkshire Post that a single elected mayor for Yorkshire was “possible” but discussions between local authorities are in their early stages and considering “a number of options”.

East Riding Council leader Stephen Parnaby said: “The devolution debate is still in its infancy, but this council is committed to maximising any opportunities for more local decision making powers or in accessing devolved sources of funding.

“With this being the case, the council is continuing to hold discussions with a number of partners in both the public and private sector to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved for residents, local communities and businesses in the East Riding.”

West Yorkshire authorities confirmed they have opened fresh negotiations with the Treasury over further devolution of transport, housing and economic powers.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority chairman Peter Box said: “We have opened discussions with Ministers about securing greater control over our economic future and believe our track record of delivering jobs and growth speaks for itself.”