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

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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.”

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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.”

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