'Balkanisation' of Yorkshire will not help, say region-wide devolution backers

One Yorkshire supporters have criticised calls for the 'Balkanisation' of the region into four devolved 'competing fiefdoms' each with their own metro mayor.

Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake and Labour MP Clive Betts wrote a joint article in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post criticising plans for an all-Yorkshire mayor and devolution agreement, arguing instead for the creation of four separate city regions based around Leeds, York, Hull and Sheffield.

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But a One Yorkshire source described their suggestion as “out of step” with the 18 out of 20 council leaders and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis who back a region-wide deal, as well as businesses and voters.

And Keighley MP John Grogan insisted the region must present a “united front” with one clear voice to maximise its potential.

Previously sceptical Ministers are currently considering a detailed economic study which says a One Yorkshire deal could give the region a £30bn boost.

Labour MP Mr Grogan said: “Balkanising Yorkshire would create four competing fiefdoms. We need to present a united front to the world to maximise inward investment, promote the county and co-ordinate policies on economic regeneration and skills.”

Mr Grogan pointed out that Tory MPs have previously opposed a Leeds City Region deal.

“I seem to recall that Kevin and some of his colleagues lobbied rather strongly against a devolution deal for Leeds City Region when it was a serious possibility years ago," he said.

“Time has moved on and Labour and Tory council leaders from across the county now overwhelmingly back One Yorkshire “

A One Yorkshire source added: “They are out of step with the leaders on local authorities, out of step with the business community, and out of step with the public who do not want a more complicated arrangement but a strong, single voice.”