Former Head of the Civil Service and ex-Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council Lord Kerslake has urged ministers to press ahead with the One Yorkshire devolution deal.
The crossbench peer, who served as Britain’s Whitehall chief from 2012-14, told The Yorkshire Post that a region-wide devolution programme should still be considered at the top of government, despite the Communities Secretary ruling it out earlier this year.
He also called on local leaders to embrace the smaller Sheffield City region deal, saying they must seize the money and powers it will deliver for the area.
But he said that moving forward with the city deal must not “rule out the option of One Yorkshire.”
He added: “I think the Government needs to commit to a meaningful conversation about this with those who are interested in the different options, so that they feel that the debate that they want to promote on One Yorkshire hasn’t been completely closed off.
“There needs to be a continuing dialogue on that.”
Referring to a recent breakthrough in the Sheffield negotiations - spearheaded by the area’s Mayor Dan Jarvis - Lord Kerslake said: “There is money available that we should be unlocking and powers available that we should be unlocking now to get that moving.
He added that the city region looks to be “on the verge of seeing that move forward. So, that is really good news, I think. Because the opportunity is there, why not take it?"
But, he said: “That to my mind doesn’t rule out the option of One Yorkshire, or indeed the option of three combined authorities is also being talked about. And that conversation needs to continue and I think as long as South Yorkshire is established in a way that doesn’t prohibit the possibility of further change, I think that is a way forward that everybody can get behind...
“If you get the combination of getting South Yorkshire up and running with the full powers and funding for the Mayor, while at the same time continuing a conversation about the potential for One Yorkshire, or other options, that would be, for me, the way forward from where we are now.”