Harrogate backs Javid and calls for North, West, East devo deal

THE FUTURE of a plan for Yorkshire to take over powers from Whitehall under an elected mayor is in the balance after one if its backers suggested it was time to explore alternative options.

Harrogate Council leader Richard Cooper

Harrogate Council leader Richard Cooper argued it was time for the North, West and East of the region to agree a devolution deal with the Government.

Coun Cooper was among 17 council leaders to pledge their support for One Yorkshire, a plan for a single devolution deal covering the whole region, over the summer.

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Barnsley and Doncaster have also backed the plan in a move that has angered Sheffield and Rotherham as the four South Yorkshire councils had already agreed a Sheffield City Region devolution deal with the Government.

The future of the Sheffield City Region deal, and the scheduled election of a mayor for the area in May, is due to be discussed on Monday.

In an intervention today, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government would not listen to any proposal which included South Yorkshire councils and insisted the Sheffield City Region deal should go ahead in its current form.

Javid branded bully over devolution letterSources suggested Barnsley and Doncaster were intent on defying Mr Javid and continuing their support for One Yorkshire.

But Mr Javid's letter appeared to have raised doubts about the prospects for One Yorkshire elsewhere in the region as Coun Cooper suggested Harrogate now wanted to pursue a deal without South Yorkshire.

He said: "It is understandable and logical that the Government expects their deal agreed with South Yorkshire to stand. It is the best deal offered in the north of England and South Yorkshire authorities should grasp that opportunity with both hands.

“Now we in the rest of Yorkshire needs to take our opportunity to move forward with a devolution deal that will bring investment, jobs and greater economic growth to our area. I believe that devolution deal should encompass North, East and West Yorkshire. The Government too has signalled its interest in such a proposal.

“Taking that opportunity which government has presented to us will provide more cash for our area, attract business to invest here and grow here and ensure our economy forges ahead as part of the Northern Powerhouse.

“We have talked as a group of Councils for long enough. We know that devolution will bring better infrastructure and better skills, planning, housing and transport. We know that we can work together. It’s time to get on with it. Doing a deal is in the interests of the public and business. And that is what we, as elected representatives, are here to do.”