Devolution: Growing clamour from business to end deadlock

Leeds City Region LEP chairman Roger Marsh
Leeds City Region LEP chairman Roger Marsh
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A GROWING number of senior business figures have expressed concern at the ongoing deadlock over Yorkshire’s devolution ambitions and the potential damage to the region’s economy.

Business groups have called for the focus to be on ensurung devolution has a positive impact on job and wealth creation.

The CBI in Yorkshire has said progress on devolution is more important than the geography but any agreements should “leverage the powerful brand that Yorkshire enjoys”.

Writing in The Yorkshire Post today, Chris Longley, from the Federation of Small Businesses, describes a Yorkshire devolution deal as “essential to meet the needs of businesses, especially small businesses, over the challenging years to come”.

In a signficant intervention this week, Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Roger Marsh declared his support for a deal “that would extend the transformational economic and social benefits of devolution to all parts of Yorkshire”.

Mr Marsh has been a longstanding advocate for a Leeds City Region deal and stood by that position this week but declared he would support a wider agreement “if there is no possibility of a Leeds City Region deal being reached”.

Another key player in the devolution discussion is the trade unions.

The unions have historically had a sceptical view of devolution, fearing it could be used as a mechanism to undermine national pay agreements.

However, it is understood union representatives have been increasingly positive about the One Yorkshire proposals and the role they might play in a future devolution agreement.

That support could prove crucial in helping Labour council leaders convince their backbenchers to back a region-wide deal.

Some Labour councillors in West Yorkshire have voiced concerns that leaders are now pursuing a region-wide approach rather than the longstanding agreed position that the best way forward is a West Yorkshire or Leeds City Region devolution deal.