Ministers must not bypass mayors over levelling up – The Yorkshire Post says

EVEN though West and South Yorkshire now have their own mayors in a process that has been as slow, and haphazard, as the old Pacer trains, neither the newly-elected Tracy Brabin, nor Dan Jarvis, can maximise their influence because so much power still rests with London Government.

Mayors Tracy Brabin and Dan Jarvis during a meeting at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Mayors Tracy Brabin and Dan Jarvis during a meeting at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Yet, while it is welcome, and encouraging, that the two mayors intend to work together on pan-Yorkshire issues and lobby Ministers collectively, much of their work will be influenced by the outcome of a House of Commons committee which meets today.

This will see the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee interview, amongst others, Luke Hall the Minister for Local Government, during its wider inquiry into the Government’s ‘levelling up’ strategy, its funding and its actual policy objectives.

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It remains to be seen whether Mr Hall, a new, junior and little-known member of Boris Johnson’s government, can offer more detailed – and specific – responses than those senior Cabinet ministers whose most responses lack clarity and conviction.

Boris Johnson is still to define the objectives of his flagship levelling up policy.

All that has happened in recent weeks is the naming of senior civil servant Emily Lawson and Huddersfield-born MP Neil O’Brien to co-ordinate policy on the PM’s behalf – appointments that smack of Downing Street keeping control of policy and minimising the role of Labour mayors who they dislike. As this newspaper has repeatedly stated, accountability is critical to Northern Powerhouse and levelling up policy and this means Ministers and officials being scrutinised far more robustly, and with far greater regularity, in order to progress devolution policy.

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