The Minister’s position threatens to leave this county with the worst of both worlds – the election of a metro-mayor in Sheffield City-Region next May that Barnsley and Doncaster don’t want as well as no further advancement of the One Yorkshire leadership model. What next?
First, there’s recognition that Yorkshire will lose out to rival regions if the status quo persists or a botched plan introduced that becomes mocked. Yet, while the national media is, belatedly, realising the importance of the issue, and what a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal could actually mean to both the county and country, The Yorkshire Post’s editorial on Tuesday – and later referenced in the House of Commons by Keighley MP John Grogan – did warn that the debate would be viewed as “a litmus test which will define the future relationship between ministers and Yorkshire”.
And, while Mr Berry appeared to fail this test with his abrasiveness at the Despatch Box and refusal to even consider the One Yorkshire blueprint publicly backed by 17 out of 20 councils at its launch, the mood between the key protagonists was more conciliatory afterwards.
Sentamu asked to help end Yorkshire devolution deadlockThis matters – even though less than one-third of Yorkshire’s 56 MPs were present for such an important debate. This should not be about party politics – and whether a county-wide mayor, or up to four metro-mayors, gives the Conservatives, or Labour, the upper hand in terms of electoral influence. Much of the current impasse is because of this, and it is time other stakeholders, be it the business community, trade unions, universities, church or others, exert their considerable influence.
It should, however, be about the future prosperity of England’s largest county; how its many strengths can be maximised and how Yorkshire can become the key economic engine that turbo-charges the Northern Powerhouse.
This is the size of the prize and this week’s exchanges must not detract from the importance of ongoing efforts to meet the needs of Yorkshire’s industrial heartlands, ambitious towns and its rural and coastal communities alike.
Dan Jarvis: How One Yorkshire devolution deal can put county in pole positionTo his credit, George Osborne, the former Chancellor, began this process – the criticism is that he, and his colleagues, became too fixated on city-regions which work in some areas, but which could, in turn, lead to a duplication of effort in a county where the ‘Yorkshire’ brand has global reach.
Yet, while Mr Grogan’s invitation to the Archbishop of York to act as an honest broker is a helpful one, the real power in the UK rests with the Treasury and Mr Osborne’s successor, Philip Hammond, has intimated a desire to look at the issue afresh because he knows that a prosperous Yorkshire is in the national economic interest.
Jake Berry: Forget Yorkshire devolution, cities will lead region’s resurgenceIt falls to him to ensure that neither this county, or the Government, comes to regret the stance adopted by Mr Berry – the future prosperity of families, and businesses, alike hinge on the outcome.