Yorkshire needs to “get its act together” to deliver a devolution settlement for the region, the Northern Powerhouse Minister has warned.
Andrew Percy, said that regions in North, West and East Yorkshire had a “responsibility as Northerners” to agree upon a deal that would see the region handed significant powers and financial support and help to close the North/South divide.
The Brigg and Goole MP’s comments come just 24 hours after former Chancellor George Osborne said that the absence of a settlement for much of Yorkshire “left a space” in the Northern Powerhouse. So far only South Yorkshire has presented a deal to Whitehall. However Mr Percy said it was the region’s collective responsibility to deliver a deal, not just local and national politicians.
Mr Percy said: “The risk in this part of the country is the inability and failure of us to get our act together on the devolution front. We literally have Government wanting to give power and money away. We all know where Manchester is, where Liverpool is, the Tees Valley is and maybe South Yorkshire is if we can get that one over the line. And here we have Leeds, Hull, Bradford, all the great cities and towns of Yorkshire, and we haven’t got a deal yet and we really need to push that in the New Year. The approach from leaders of all parties is changing, they are now thinking more generally and we are seeing that.”
Mr Percy, who was named Northern Powerhouse minister when Theresa May came to power, made his remarks in a roundtable event with business leaders from around the region hosted by Barclays.
He said that it was possible to find a structure that would work across the varying economies seen in Leeds as well as East and North Yorkshire.
“We can structure a deal major at the top we have a combined authority and then area committee structures, so you could have decision making devolved down to West or East Yorkshire.”
Mr Percy also said that Government had no legal ability to impose a deal and that the solution had to come from within the region.
“It has to be political leaders to comes to us with a deal. If they are not in agreement there cannot be a deal. People are working together but let’s harness this or we are going to miss out.
“Government is just one of the partners. It some ways it might be even more effective without our involvement.”