Council leaders have not spoken for nine months over devolution

AS LUCRATIVE devolution deals are signed off around the country, Hull and East Yorkshire remain in limbo over their future as it is revealed council leaders have not spoken for nine months.

Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council.

Hammering out how power can be transferred from Whitehall to Yorkshire has been on the agenda for every council leader in the region.

However the leader of Hull City Council said he has not met with council leaders in West Yorkshire who are pioneering the Leeds City Region model for months and he still wants to convince them that a deal that spans the widest possible geography is in everyone’s best interest.

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Councillor Stephen Brady said: “Generally, the good things you’ve got to fight hard for. I’m never down over it, I think we have just got to keep going at it and putting over our case and hopefully we will make a breakthrough and maybe Andrew Percy as the new Northern Powerhouse minister can help to do that.

“There is nothing diaried in terms of meetings with West Yorkshire leaders and that has been the case for probably between six to nine months.

“It’s interesting that Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, asked if I would be prepared to ask East Riding to come for talks in Leeds about joining together on a devolution deal. I duly went along with the East Riding, we both gave our commitment to it, and from that moment on, we never heard another thing.”

Coun Brady has been a long term supporter of a Greater Yorkshire plan which would see the Treasury devolving powers to the largest possible geographical area, excluding South Yorkshire which already has its own deal.

His meeting with West Yorkshire fell flat, and he claims the Greater Lincolnshire proposal, which has since been granted a deal, did not want Hull to join them.

Coun Brady said: “We have never taken a stance that it’s this deal or no deal. Even over the Humber it was the eight south bank authorities that wouldn’t go into any deal with Hull, so I found that very strange.”

He said their door remains open to other councils and he is convinced that if others thought about what makes the most economic sense, they would see Hull has a direct link to Leeds, and further into West Yorkshire due to its transport links. Their port is also a huge selling point as to why councils should give them consideration, he believes.

He may not be alone in striving for Greater Yorkshire, as Conservative MPs across Yorkshire have consistently lobbied Government consistently to only hand over powers to the largest geographic area possible and not allow Leeds to have a stand alone deal.

He said: “I can see some of the points being made by West Yorkshire about the close working relationship they have had with other authorities over the years and they do not envisage any other potential cities but I think that’s short-sighted of them.”

Coun Blake agreed the two authorities have not been talking as she is still waiting to hear back if Leeds City Region will be accepted, but they want to keep a relationship going with Hull.