Key Cabinet Minister James Brokenshire has committed to respond “in detail” to proposals for the devolution of powers and money from Westminster to a Yorkshire-wide mayor.
In his first public comments on the plans since being appointed in April, the Local Government Secretary told The Yorkshire Post he was also “very conscious” of the “lively debate” over devolution in Yorkshire.
Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, who is trying to broker a ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution deal, welcomed Mr Brokenshire’s commitment as a chance to break the “deadlock” in talks.
Mr Jarvis has been lobbying Ministers since being elected to pursue a Yorkshire-wide deal.
His current role is in limbo as Barnsley and Doncaster councils also prefer a One Yorkshire agreement along with 16 of the region’s other councils.
Sheffield and Rotherham prefer the City Region deal but are the only two Yorkshire local authorities not to back a regional agreement.
Quizzed on the proposals following a Westminster speech, Mr Brokenshire said yesterday: “I will certainly be responding to that in further detail.
“Obviously there are the specific issues in relation to the Sheffield City (Region) arrangements - that is the priority but I am obviously very conscious of some of the lively debate at the moment.”
Mr Jarvis stressed: “It is nearly four months since the Government received a comprehensive proposal for a wider Yorkshire devolution deal.
“I welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to respond to this document in further detail. I believe our respective new appointments provide a real opportunity to break the deadlock and satisfactorily resolve this important issue for the people of Yorkshire.”
Keighley MP John Grogan said he was encouraged.
The Labour MP said: “Mr Brokenshire is an experienced politician given his previous role as Northern Ireland Secretary. I am hoping that over the summer he will assert himself and take ultimate charge of the Yorkshire devolution issue.
“I am hopeful that Mr Brokenshire will take a wide view particularly given the wide support amongst leading Yorkshire Conservative council leaders for the All Yorkshire Plan.”