Top Minister yet to meet South Yorkshire leaders to plot a way through devolution impasse

The Local Government Secretary has still not met South Yorkshire council leaders or the region's mayor to plot a way through the devolution deadlock gripping the region, a peer has revealed.

A region-wide One Yorkshire devolution deal is backed by 18 out of 20 of the region's councils and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis.

Former Sheffield City Council leader Lord Scriven said the Cabinet Minister James Brokenshire has still not discussed stalled devolution plans with Sheffield City Region (SCR) Mayor Dan Jarvis or the four local authority leaders in South Yorkshire.

The SCR has been left with little powers or money as Barnsley and Doncaster would rather take part in a wider One Yorkshire devolution deal, which is also backed by Mr Jarvis alongside a cross-party group of 16 other council leaders from across the region.

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The leaders last month submitted detailed documentation about the economic case for a One Yorkshire deal which could deliver a £30bn boost to the region, and a proposed road map for how it could become a reality.

But Local Government Minister Lord Bourne today insisted: “Nothing can happen in relation to broader Yorkshire until the Sheffield deal moves forward.”

Government ‘may be frightened of Yorkshire’s power after region-wide devolution deal’, says peer It came after Lord Scriven asked when the Government would pull the plug on the SCR deal if leaders cannot agree a way forward.

In the Lords, the Liberal Democrat peer said: "It is clear that there is stalemate, the four local authority leaders in South Yorkshire cannot agree a way forward and despite the fact that the order for the election has been through this House the order for the powers and the money have not.

“In light of that could I ask the Minister when the Secretary of State will meet with the four leaders and the elected Mayor of the Sheffield City Region as he hasn’t done so since he became the Secretary of State six months ago?

“And if the leaders can’t find a way forward in this stalemate will a timescale be put on before the deal is withdrawn?”

Lord Bourne said the Government was “pressing for” Mr Jarvis to launch a consultation on potential powers and money for SCR as the next legal step.

He added: “The Secretary of State (Mr Brokenshire) has indicated... that he will be giving a statement on devolution in general during the autumn.

“I don’t think he has any specific plans to meet the four city leaders as the way forward is quite clear in relation to the statutory requirements.”

Meanwhile, Baroness Pinnock called on Ministers to "open the dam" to a One Yorkshire deal.

She said: “The Minister said earlier that a third of the population of England has a devolution deal, yet Yorkshire with a 5m population has no deal at all, but a desire both from South Yorkshire and the whole of Yorkshire for a deal.

“When is the Government going to open the dam to allow a deal to occur?

“Because there is a real desire in Yorkshire to take on the responsibilities that the Government would be able to devolve to them?”