KEIGHLEY MP Kris Hopkins has been accused of “talking down” West Yorkshire for suggesting it needs to be more like Manchester if it is to take control over its own affairs.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority chairman Peter Box said the comments of Mr Hopkins - along with those of Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney calling for an elected mayor for the area - showed the pair were out of touch.
Mr Hopkins said earlier this week that he “looked enviously” at Greater Manchester for being able to unite around a common vision for the area and suggested that was why the city has been able to agree a deal with the Treasury to take over powers and cash currently spent in Whitehall.
Negotiations over a similar ‘devolution deal’ for West Yorkshire have stalled although George Osborne has suggested agreement could be in place by the Budget next month.
“In Yorkshire we have had some progress, in Sheffield and soon in Leeds, but we have not seen people uniting around a vision of what they want for the economy and setting out to achieve it,” Mr Hopkins said.
Coun Box said West Yorkshire’s towns and cities had shown they could work together with a joint economic plan which had convinced the Government to hand over more than £600 million to put it into action.
Coun Box said: “Reading Kris Hopkins and Jason McCartney’s comments in The Yorkshire Post, I was astonished at these MPs’ lack of awareness of what is actually going on in West Yorkshire.”
He added: “In my view rather than looking enviously across the Pennines, talking down West Yorkshire and proposing new, costly layers of administration in the form of elected Mayors, Kris Hopkins and Jason McCartney’s time would be better spent paying attention to what is going on in their own constituencies.”
He called on the MPs to press the Government to agree West Yorkshire’s “long overdue” devolution deal.