Calls for government to ‘treat Yorkshire fairly’, as plans for devolution deal discussed

A senior Leeds politician has called on the government to treat Yorkshire fairly as councillors discussed plans to get a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal.

It follows a report from Leeds City Council officers which claims authorities are working towards securing a so-called One Yorkshire deal within the next couple of years.

Leeds City Council deputy leader James Lewis has called on the government to treat devolution plans fairly.

Leeds City Council deputy leader James Lewis has called on the government to treat devolution plans fairly.

Plans for a Leeds City Region deal, which would have included West Yorkshire, Harrogate and Craven, were submitted back in 2015, but eventually faltered over concerns in North Yorkshire about the ‘loss’ of two districts and opposition from West Yorkshire Conservative MPs.

Leaders of 18 of Yorkshire’s 20 councils have since submitted plans to form a larger One Yorkshire regional authority, which would cover the entire county.

And a document which went before members of Leeds City Council’s infrastructure scrutiny committee this week claimed Yorkshire leaders were hoping to have a region-wide deal in place by the end of Sheffield Mayor Dan Jarvis’s first term of office.

It stated: “One Yorkshire leaders wrote to the Prime Minister at the end of July 2019, outlining new devolution proposals. On July 29, 2019, the proposals were published.

“These included that a series of interim devolution deals would be agreed across Yorkshire to run in parallel with the existing Sheffield City Region (SCR)

agreement.

“Negotiations would continue with government to have a One Yorkshire devolution agreement completed by 2022, the end of the current SCR mayor’s term.

“At this point, any SCR authorities wishing to be part of the wider Yorkshire deal would be allowed to do so. The proposals outline how a One Yorkshire devolution deal could deliver economic benefits worth £30bn a year, or £5,400 per person.”

During the meeting, Coun Jonathan Taylor (Con) asked whether council leaders were looking at a deal covering a smaller geographical area.

Council deputy leader James Lewis (Lab) responded: “Long serving members remember when George Osborne was chancellor – we were encouraged to put in a bid for Leeds City Region which the government did not accept.

“If the government wants to fund an area with devolution deals, they will do that. I am hopeful that we will get some conclusion on that. We missed out on £10 million in business rates retention because we didn’t have a deal.

“I am optimistic that we will take things forward in a positive fashion and the government will then treat us fairly.”