Region power play

THE decision by the various local authorities which make up the Leeds and Sheffield city regions to make joint bids for the devolution of new powers from Whitehall represents a hugely positive step forward for Yorkshire.

The Government’s decision to initially offer its ‘city deal’ devolution packages only to eight ‘core cities’ never sat comfortably, particularly in relatively deprived areas such as Bradford and Doncaster where the powers to invest locally in infrastructure are so glaringly needed.

That perceived unfairness was exacerbated when Nick Clegg justified the decision by insisting it made sense for “the biggest cities” to get powers first – despite the fact Bradford is larger than many of those which made the list.

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The joined-up approach now being proposed means the majority of residents in Yorkshire could now benefit from their local authorities having crucial new powers over transport, infrastructure and spending.

Local decision-making should enable councils to target investment in jobs and transport where they know it is needed most.

The fear remains, of course, that those areas outside these two city regions could now potentially fall behind.

It is vital that towns and cities such as Hull, Grimsby and Scarborough are not neglected further as the rest of Yorkshire powers ahead with programmes of major infrastructure investment.

Ministers have repeatedly stressed the need to “re-balance” Britain’s economy.

If they are serious in what they say, a plan to empower outlying areas will also be required.