IF the One Yorkshire devolution deal was unacceptable to most local authorities in the north of the county because insufficient attention was being afforded to the rural economy, the council leaders concerned might have a valid point – regional and decision-makers disregard countryside communities at their peril.
Yet it appears they have used the bitter disagreements in Labour’s ranks in South Yorkshire – Sheffield and Rotherham Council are at loggerheads with their counterparts in Doncaster and Barnsley – as political cover for attempting to scupper hopes of the whole Yorkshire moving forward with common purpose.
And the reason appears political – the councils concerned, and also the increasingly inflexible Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, clearly believe a Greater Yorkshire solution, which incorporates the West, North and East Ridings, has the most likelihood of returning a Tory mayor because the outcome won’t be skewed by the strength of electoral support for Labour in South Yorkshire.
It’s not the first time in this process that party politics has been put before the greater good. It probably won’t be the last, and the stand-off in the south of the county is not helping. Yet, as CBI leaders prepare to meet the region’s MPs at Parliament, and the Institute of Directors says this region risks losing influence, the fact of the matter is that businesses and families have a right to expect better from their elected representatives. After all, those concerned – Tory and Labour alike – went into politics to serve the people, and improve the prosperity of their county, rather than imposing their will on the electorate.