Six priorities for Yorkshire Day: Devolution

The recent rows over how Yorkshire should respond to the offer of more control over its own affairs have overshadowed the great strides the region has already taken. A series of agreements in recent years mean decisions over huge sums of money once controlled in Whitehall are now taken locally in areas such as transport, skills and business support.

Leeds Civic Hall

However, that progress is now at risk amid the ongoing deadlock over the future of devolution in West, North and East Yorkshire. The causes of the impasse are complex and the responsibility must be shared by MPs, council leaders and Ministers.

A new government and, critically, new faces in the Treasury and the Department for Communities and 
Local Government are an opportunity for all sides to draw a line under the 
last 18 months, look again at all the issues and propose constructive ways forward.

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In particular, the new Ministers must not use their insistence that answers must be found locally to wash their hands of the process completely. While they are right not to impose a solution from outside, they do have the law-making and financial powers that can help produce a result that all sides can accept.

The EU referendum result should also lend fresh impetus to the devolution discussions. With swathes of Whitehall set to be occupied with the demands of the Brexit talks with Brussels, there should be an even bigger incentive to move responsibilities from London to the English regions that want them.

South Yorkshire already has a devolution deal in place as part of the Sheffield City Region which will see a new mayor elected next year. It is vital that the conversation in the rest of the region moves from what the powers should be, where they cover and who should wield them to what they should be used for, and how they can drive growth and higher standards of living in Yorkshire.