Yorkshire devolution: Doncaster and Barnsley voters back region-wide deal

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A poll of residents in Barnsley and Doncaster has shown strong support for a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal, it was announced today.

In Barnsley, 84.9 per cent of those who voted backed a wider Yorkshire deal, a total of 34,015 votes. A total of 6,064 backed a Sheffield City Region solution.

In total 40,280 votes were cast, a turn-out of 22.4 per cent, during the poll announced by the two councils last month.

In Doncaster, 85.2 per cent of voters backed a wider Yorkshire devolution deal, with a turn-out of 20.1 per cent.

Sir Stephen Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The will of the people is for wider Yorkshire. We’ll work to make that happen and we’re confident that this is the right move for Barnsley.

“Our next step is negotiating a way forward for wider Yorkshire.

“We’ll call on Government to enter into discussions on wider Yorkshire with the coalition of the willing.

This includes not imposing a Sheffield City Region Mayor on the will of the people and we’ll work to push back any Sheffield City Region mayoral elections until 2020. We would also want to find an alternative deal for those who wish to remain in the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

“We now know the direction that our residents want the borough to take, and people living in Barnsley now know much more about devolution and the benefits it will bring."

According to council documents, holding the poll has cost each authority £120,000. Every voter received a voting pack in the first week of December, giving information about both options.

South Yorkshire's ongoing devolution saga which began in 2015 when then-Chancellor George Osborne signed an agreement with Sheffield City Region leaders, which includes Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Under the deal a directly elected mayor, due to be elected in May 2018, was to be given £900m over 30 years and handed power over transport budgets and strategic planning.

But, in August, the leaders of Doncaster and Barnsley signed up to a pan-Yorkshire proposal and pulled out of the Sheffield City Region deal, throwing its future into doubt.

Sheffield and Rotherham Councils have not given their support to the One Yorkshire deal and the Department for Communities and Local Government says it is not prepared to consider any proposal that cuts across the Sheffield City Region deal.

This week, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid intervened in the dispute, saying South Yorkshire council leaders could join the One Yorkshire deal as long as the Sheffield City Region plan was fully implemented first.