Analysis: Devolution impasse will not be solved by goodwill

Lord Heseltine urges Yorkshire councils to find agreement on devolution deals
Lord Heseltine urges Yorkshire councils to find agreement on devolution deals
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IT is not uncommon to listen to a politician delivering a speech and wonder whether the author is taking part in a bet to find the most incongruous phrase they can put in the speaker’s mouth.

That thought certainly came to mind as Lord Heseltine extolled the “roll out of contactless ticketing and the prioritisation of options to improve east-west connectivity” to the audience gathered at the Queens Hotel in Leeds.

But there were passages of the speech where Lord Heseltine’s own hand was more evident.

The Conservative peer has led the way in dragging his party to a position where it now has a Chancellor promising to give Whitehall powers away to the regions.

Heseltine tells Yorkshire to be at heart of ‘devolution revolution’

And having long made the case for devolution, it is not hard to imagine the frustration he must at parts of Yorkshire so far failing to grasp what he regards to be a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

His plea for Yorkshire council leaders to find a way around the current impasse was clearly heartfelt.

But finding a way forward in the coming weeks will take more than just a health dose of goodwill on all sides.

There are complex issues to untangle and genuinely held concerns that must be addressed.

And while the Government does not want to impose a solution it does have tools at its disposal, not least funding promises, that could smooth the journey to devolution deals that satisfy all.