Sajid Javid branded ‘bully’ over Yorkshire devolution letter

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid
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COMMUNITIES SECRETARY Sajid Javid has been accused of trying to “bully” council leaders ahead of a crunch meeting on devolution to Yorkshire.

Mr Javid warned the Government will not listen to any proposal for Yorkshire to take more control over its own affairs which covers South Yorkshire.

His intervention comes ahead of a meeting on Monday to decide the future of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

The deal should see South Yorkshire receive new powers and £30m a year in extra funding overseen by a mayor to be elected in May.

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But it has been beset by problems and over the summer Doncaster and Barnsley indicated they now wanted to pursue an alternative deal, agreed in principle with 15 other councils, known as “One Yorkshire”.

Rotherham and Sheffield have maintained their support for the Sheffield City Region deal and Mr Javid’s letter amounts to a warning to Barnsley and Doncaster that if they walk away on Monday they could miss out on the benefits of devolution altogether.

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It is understood Barnsley and Doncaster are unlikely to change their position with one source describing Mr Javid’s letter as a “testing of mettle”.

Writing to council leaders and MPs, Mr Javid said the Government “will not consider any proposal for a Yorkshire wide deal that involved one or more of the four South Yorkshire councils”.

Mr Javid suggested persuing the Sheffield City Region deal was supported by “key businesses” and “the benefits are among the highest of the northern deals”.

Keighley MP John Grogan said: “This is a last gasp attempt by the Secretary of State to try and bully the South Yorkshire councils ahead of their meeting next week.

“He may well find that the days of Whitehall dictating to the people of Yorkshire about what is best for them are well and truly over.

“If the South Yorkshire deal collapses I expect the Government to revise their stance.”

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Areas including Greater Manchester, Tees Valley and the West Midlands have agreed devolution deals taking over powers in areas such as transport and planning from Whitehall under elected mayors including former health secretary Andy Burnham and ex-John Lewis boss Andy Street.

But Yorkshire politicians have struggled to reach agreement on devolution deals triggering repeated warnings from business that the region could be left behind.