Incoming CBI Yorkshire boss calls for speeding up of devolution discussions

The incoming chairman of the CBI Yorkshire and Humber Council has called for devolution to Yorkshire to be agreed as soon as possible.

What will devolution mean for Yorkshire.

Richard Flint, chief executive of Sky Betting and Gaming, would not be drawn on a specific model for an agreement but said bringing additional funds into the region would improve transport infrastructures and help keep more talented young people in Yorkshire.

Mr Flint was making his remarks following a reception at the House of Commons hosted by the CBI to give company bosses a chance to quiz Yorkshire MPs on matters pertaining to the region’s economy.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Devolution was predictably high on the agenda at the behind closed doors meeting in a week which has seen much debate about the plan for a One Yorkshire settlement to have a single mayor for the entire region.

Mr Flint, who takes on the chairman’s position later this year, told The Yorkshire Post: “I think we should move as soon as we can, whatever the form may be.

“I think there is an importance of businesses in this region having the strongest voice possible, particularly when it comes to something as important as transport infrastructure spending and skills.

“Skills is a big factor for us, we are currently recruiting to fill 200 vacancies.

“With a mayor for Yorkshire we could look at successfully keeping more of the 200,000 students up here and we can do that with great jobs and further money going into transport.”

Parliamentary boundaries are set to change

The debate over devolution to the region is split between two camps.

The One Yorkshire plan advocates a single mayor for the whole region and has the backing of 17 of the region’s 20 councils.

However Sheffield, Rotherham and Wakefield remain opposed to it, as does the Department for Communities and Local Government who do not want to roll back on the deal struck last year for the Sheffield City Region.

A separate deal, known as Greater Yorkshire, would see the current Sheffield City Region go through with the remaining areas of Yorkshire elect their own mayor.

Parliamentary boundaries are set to change

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, has been one of the strongest proponents of the One Yorkshire deal and this week suggested a compromise measure be implemented in which the Greater Yorkshire deal was put forth on the understanding Sheffield’s deal was to be temporary and that One Yorkshire be implemented by 2020.

Mr Jarvis is to meet with Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry next week to discuss the matter,

He said: “A ‘One Yorkshire’ devolved settlement offers a historic opportunity to draw together our county in a way that would provide very significant economic benefit for our region – something that is recognised both by large and small business as well as the Trade Unions.

“Talking to business leaders at the event today they see the ‘One Yorkshire’ proposal as a great opportunity to harness our collective energy and talent across the whole Yorkshire area. There was general agreement that this will give us the best chance to compete and leverage our unique brand in a post Brexit world.

“If the government are serious about promoting economic prosperity in the north of England then they need to get round the table with our local council leaders and our business community and recognise the real economic benefits that devolution over this scale would undoubtedly offer.”