Devolution call gathers pace in aftermath of Brexit vote

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LEEDS CITY Council leader Judith Blake has called for a fresh push to end Yorkshire’s devolution deadlock in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

A report to be considered by senior Leeds councillors next week suggests it is time for “bold and decisive action” on the drive to give the city more control over its own affairs.

It suggests that with Whitehall set to be dominated by the forthcoming talks with Brussels on Britain’s departure from the EU there is an even stronger case for the Government devolving more responsibilities to local government.

By taking more decisions at a local level, devolution is also seen as a way of addressing the discontent with politics seen by some as a factor in the vote to leave the EU.

South Yorkshire has already agreed a so-called devolution deal which will see the area elect a new metro-mayor in May next year.

But in West, North and East Yorkshire there have been major disagreements between councils and MPs over which areas should team up to take on powers from the Government.

Coun Blake said: “While we can be rightly proud of our city, if we are to meet the challenges of Brexit both in the short-term and long- term and continue the progress that has been made to make Leeds somewhere which is an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest, what is absolutely imperative is that more powers are devolved from Whitehall as soon as possible.

“Only this will provide us with all of the tools that are needed to respond in the best possible way to all of the challenges that lay ahead.”

The call from Leeds is echoed in a new report from the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies arguing for the Government to take a more ambitious approach to devolution deals following the Brexit vote.

The report, The Real Deal, sets out 11 suggestions for how moving powers away from Whitehall could bring major benefits in areas including housing, transport and education.

Dr Craig Berry, deputy director of SPERI, said: “As a new government takes office this is a valuable opportunity to reset the devolution agenda in the UK.

“Bold new ideas to push the parameters of devolution deals are needed and we want this report to be taken up by mayors and combined authorities, new Ministers and the public.”