Minister rules out Yorkshire-wide devolution deal

YORKSHIRE will not be given a region-wide deal to take more control over its own affairs, a key minister will say today.

Jake Berry

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry will use his first visit in the role to the region today to reject the case for a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal and insist that moves to transfer powers away from London must be focused on cities.

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His intervention comes as former chancellor George Osborne, who coined the Northern Powerhouse idea, called on the North of England to work together to make the case for investment in better infrastucture.

Mr Berry’s declaration is a major blow to supporters of a single Yorkshire devolution deal who had hoped that Mr Berry replacing Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy, an opponent of the idea, as Northern Powerhouse Minister could help their cause.

New metro-mayors were elected in regions including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Tees Valley in May to wield powers in areas such as transport and skills as a result of devolution deals agreed with the Government.

A devolution agreement has been struck covering South Yorkshire but the election of a metro-mayor was postponed until next year following a legal challenge and disagreement between council leaders.

Supporters of a single Yorkshire deal have argued city-based agreements will damage the region’s identity and be unfair to rural areas.

Mr Berry said: “There will not be a ‘full Yorkshire’ devolution deal. Yorkshire is a fantastic brand. But devolution is about giving control to cities.

“Sheffield goes first. Next May, people in the Sheffield region will elect a mayor and I share the strong view of local business leaders that the deal we signed in October 2015 remains the right deal for Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and Sheffield.

“Indeed, it’s the only deal that’s there for those areas.”

Mr Osborne, who now chairs the Northern Powerhouse Partnership he set up after being sacked as chancellor, told business leaders in Hull that they were “more likely to get a bigger share of the cake” if they acted in unison to call for central funding.

Speaking at a Northern Powerhouse event at energy giant Siemens’ wind turbine plant in Hull, he said: “If you can make an argument that there is a big economic benefit that is bigger than the benefit that just goes to Hull, and will benefit the entire economy and help job creation in the North West, then you are punching above your weight.

“The North can make a case and say we have really thought about this and we are not just submitting a long wish list.

“It can say that there are some big industries here and some big capabilities, and that we are linking them together and here is the plan to do it and it needs these things, and you get the leaders of Manchester and Liverpool saying those improvements in Hull are things we need as well, then you are much more likely to get a bigger share of the cake.”