BY choosing to reject the One Yorkshire devolution proposition via a perfunctory press release, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has done himself, or his reputation, no favours whatsoever. Not only were leaders given next to no advance warning, but he did not have the courage to do so in person on the floor of the House of Commons.
And this from a Minister who has only made one official visit to Yorkshire since being appointed to do his role last year. If he had done so, Mr Brokenshire would have seen, for himself, the unity of purpose that exists between 18 out of 20 councils here, plus Sheffield City Region’s metro mayor Dan Jarvis, when it comes to devolution.
As recent research has shown, they know this region has the ability to achieve far more, and potentially generate £30bn a year for the local and national economy, if it pools its expertise rather than pursuing the fragmented approach favoured by the Minister – or those telling him what to say and do.
And when Mr Brokenshire is quoted as saying that One Yorkshire “does not meet our devolution criteria”, he misses a fundamental point. This exercise is supposed to be about communities deciding the way forward instead of the Government imposing a leadership model on a county with its best days ahead of it. Is this still the case? Perhaps the Minister could respond – and preferably in person.