Devolution '˜absolutely crucial' for Northern Powerhouse

A devolution deal for the Leeds City Region is vital if Yorkshire is going to meet its economic potential, according to Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn.

Hilary Benn, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Leeds Central MP

Speaking at an Irwin Mitchell UK Powerhouse event yesterday, Leeds Central MP Mr Benn said that the devolution deadlock is holding the city of Leeds back from tackling the issues which affect economic expansion including transport, skills, housing and access to broadband.

The debate was hosted by David Parkin and held at Irwin Mitchell’s offices in Leeds at 2 Wellington Place. In addition to audience members having the opportunity to discuss the economic priorities for the city of Leeds, Mr Benn shared his thoughts on the forthcoming EU Referendum, leadership and governance, devolution, education and inward investment.

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He said: “The so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is really about the people of Leeds being able to make and take decisions that affect them.

“We remain a very centralised country in terms of decision-making and I am passionate about devolution and disappointed that despite the formation of the Leeds City Region, a deal has not been done yet in Yorkshire.

“Further devolution is absolutely crucial and without it here in Yorkshire, we will not be able to tackle the huge issues that exist in relation to transport infrastructure, skills and housing.”

Unlike in Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, the North East, Teesside, Liverpool and West Midlands, a devolution deal has not been signed off yet in Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire councils have been pressing for a Leeds City Region, however Conservative MPs in West Yorkshire along with North Yorkshire County Council and East Riding Council have been calling for a deal covering the whole of West, North and East Yorkshire.

Mr Benn added: “There are two competing visions but it needs to be sorted. I am supporting the City Region bid and the Government needs to get on and make a decision.”

The free event provided an update on Irwin Mitchell’s UK Powerhouse Tracker report - a quarterly city-by-city forecast of the economic strength.

The latest report revealed that economic growth within Yorkshire’s largest cities deteriorated in the final quarter of 2015.