IT HAS taken compromise, conciliation and collaboration to break Yorkshire’s devolution deadlock – three watchwords which need to underpin this region’s future relationship with the Government.
Acknowledging that Ministers have a clear mandate, Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis – a prominent One Yorkshire advocate – has reached agreement over a devolution deal for South Yorkshire.
Backed by council leaders in Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster, it will hasten separate arrangements being signed off for West Yorkshire – further talks are due next week – as a framework for North and East Yorkshire is considered in parallel.
Such transfer of power comes at a time when the need for a strong and effective regional policy has never been greater – Lord Bob Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, last year compared the scale of inequalities endemic here to those which confronted Germany at the time of unification in 1990. They’re that profound.
But – and this is the key point – the Government has agreed, in a key concession, to continue supporting the work of the Yorkshire Leaders Board where the heads of all 21 councils meet to discuss those strategic issues which affect all. And the fact that Ministers sanctioned this keeps alive the option of the whole county uniting in the future under a single mayor if an even more convincing case can be made.
As Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry stressed last week, it is this region which will lose out if it remains at odds with the Government over devolution and there is now a general acceptance of this. That said, it is now up to Mr Berry to reciprocate the trust that he is expecting leaders, and taxpayers, here to place in them. An early test will be whether Mr Jarvis has the financial resources and freedom to utilise his new policy powers.