Yorkshire cities urged to “unite like Manchester”

Hilary Benn MP
Hilary Benn MP
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Yorkshire has been urged to set itself an economic vision as a minister says the region’s cities should be jealous of Manchester.

MPs yesterday gathered to launch a cross-party Yorkshire Devolution document, backed by shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn, setting out how the next Government should continue taking power out of Whitehall.

The devolution wishlist set out the priorities local leaders should be aiming for, including a demand for urgent improvements to the A64 connecting the coast to York and through to Leeds and beyond and the need to address the very poor physical condition of so much of the rural roads network.

Keighley MP and communities minister Kris Hopkins told those gathered to launch the document in Parliament that councils in Yorkshire had to realise the key to success rest with them.

“I have looked enviously across the Pennines at Manchester, where they have united around a vision,” he said.

Mr Hopkins added: “Manchester has seen huge gains in devolution terms and they have done it by coming together and accepting a joint vision for the economy.

“In Yorkshire we have had some progress, in Sheffield and soon in Leeds, but we have not seen people uniting around a vision of what they want for the economy and setting out to achieve it.”

Mr Hopkins added that for the region to succeed in an era of Government devolution, many councils would need to start acting as city regions.

The minister was joined by Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney, who said the prospect of securing Yorkshire devolution would be strengthened by the main council groups uniting behind their own elected mayor.

He added: “If you look at Pacer trains, I tend to think if we had a Boris for say the Leeds city region we would not have those now, the call to get rid would have been too great. People say an elected mayor is just another level of politics, but if we had a popular figure, a Gary Verity say, they would unite behind it.”

The Yorkshire manifesto comes as the Liberal Democrats prepare to launch their election pledges.

Nick Clegg will today outline a pledge to protect spending from nursery to college. The commitment is the first of five priorities highlighted on the front page of the Lib Dems’ election manifesto.