Ministers open to Yorkshire devolution discussions

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A Treasury Minister has given a fresh indication that the Government is willing to negotiate the transfer of powers and money to a Yorkshire-wide devolved authority.

Robert Jenrick suggested he was open to getting “One Yorkshire” plans backed by Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis and 18 out of 20 of the region’s councils “moving forwards”.

Mr Jenrick said Ministers would work in “good faith” to see whether an agreement can be reached that pleases all parties, whilst “continuing to support the integrity” of the Sheffield deal.

Mr Jarvis currently has little powers or money as South Yorkshire’s four councils have split between backing One Yorkshire agreement and the Sheffield deal.

At the all party parliamentary group on the Northern Powerhouse, Mr Jenrick suggested Yorkshire council leaders need to agree on a structure of how region-wide devolution would work and Ministers would then be open to discussing it.

The 18 councils have already proposed a Yorkshire-wide mayor and are waiting for a formal response from Ministers.

Mr Jenrick said: “Treasury officials are liaising with the local authorities and proponents of One Yorkshire deal, I think our door is always open.

“It’s really for the proposals to be considered by (Local Government Secretary) James Brokenshire but from the Treasury’s perspective we stand ready to engage in it.

“The first question really is can we reach an agreement on the governance structure?

“If the governance is there then I think the deal can move forwards.

“Your challenge really is to work out an appropriate level of governance with the Secretary of State, with all the local stakeholders, and then we’re here to try and get it over the… to get it moving forwards.

“But I think there seems to be some work to be done before we get to that point.”