Yorkshire offered devolution ‘chance of a lifetime’

Greg Clark
Greg Clark
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YORKSHIRE is being offered the “chance in a lifetime” to take control of its own fate, a Government Minister will claim today.

Greg Clark will call for Britain to become a nation of “muscular communities” where all parts of the UK are successful and the country relies less on the capital.

The Local Government Secretary is one of the key figures in the Government’s plans to devolve powers from Whitehall to areas which agree to have elected mayors.

Manchester reached such an agreemented with the Coalition government in a deal coined ‘Devo Manc’ and negotiations with parts of Yorkshire looking to follow suit are underway.

In a nod to those calling for devolution deals to include greater local control over how money is raised and spent, Mr Clark will today agree that areas “who are prepared to organise to be more effective and more efficient should be able to reap the rewards of that boldness, whether in costs saved or additional revenues generated.”

Speaking to councillors at the Local Government Association conference in Harrogate, he will describe the devolution deals on offer as the “chance of a lifetime to direct the future economic prosperity and social flourishing of your area.

“To make life better for even more people than you can now.

“The ability, in difficult economic times, to take control of your fate.”

Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper will enter the devolution debate today by suggesting that education and energy are among the areas where regions could have a far bigger say.

The Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP will call on George Osborne to prove regions are not just receiving the “crumbs from the table” and pledge Labour would extend the offer of devolution to towns and rural areas as well as cities.

And she will contrast the Government’s promise to empower regions with last week’s decision to shelve two rail electrification schemes which would have benefitted Yorkshire.

“Rhetoric about devolution at the same time central government shelves major regional transport is just not good enough. We need sustainable investment and devolution for all parts of the country and it should go further than the government plans so that towns can be involved as well as cities, and so that energy, skills and policing are all included too.

“Northern cities and towns have faced deeper cuts than the national average. Osborne promised rail improvement schemes before the election that he has cancelled barely two months afterwards.”

Ms Cooper and the other Labour leadership hopefuls will take part in a hustings at the LGA conference today.

Council leaders will also hear acting Labour leader Harriet Harman launch an attack on the Conservatives’ record on house-building.