Hull and East Riding devolution a 'priority' for Government, minister Simon Clarke pledges

A devolution deal for Hull and East Riding will be a “priority” once local leaders can meet again, a Government minister has said.

Writing to Hull West and Hessle Labour MP Emma Hardy, communities minister Simon Clarke expressed his disappointment that leaders in northern Lincolnshire had rejected proposals to join a cross-Humber devolution deal spanning the estuary earlier this year.

North and North East Lincolnshire councils decided in March to focus on Greater Lincolnshire devolution instead of joining with Hull and East Riding.

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But as other deals were reached across Yorkshire it left the area increasingly isolated in securing more powers and funding from Westminster.

Communities Minister Simon Clarke. Photo: JPI MediaCommunities Minister Simon Clarke. Photo: JPI Media
Communities Minister Simon Clarke. Photo: JPI Media

Mr Clarke said a cross-Humber deal would have been the “optimum outcome” but he said “we cannot compel local authorities to join a geography and have reluctantly recognised that northern Lincolnshire leaders and MPs consider that their future lies with Lincolnshire”.

But he added: “Once local authorities and partners are able to engage, we want to give priority to negotiating a Hull and East Riding devolution deal.”

It follows deals signed with leaders in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire in recent months, with North Yorkshire also holding talks.

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Ms Hardy, who had backed a deal spanning all of Yorkshire and feared Hull would be left behind in a race for devolution, said: “Whilst the minister would have preferred a southbank/northbank devolution deal this was sadly blocked by his Conservative southbank MPs and so we move to pursuing a Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire devolution deal.

“This does not give us the economies of scale that a larger deal would bring and there are questions about where we stand in the devolution ‘pecking order’ but it would be an opportunity to develop the Humber as a zero-carbon economy, boost regional strategic industries such as our ports, manufacturing and engineering, create new opportunities for high skilled employment and our future economic and environmental sustainability and it is our only remaining option.”