Yorkshire devolution: Doncaster mayor hits out at fellow council leaders over lack of progress

The leader of a South Yorkshire council has criticised two of her counterparts for failing to agree a collective position on devolution in the county.

Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster
Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones wrote in an online post that the decision by the leaders of Sheffield and Rotherham councils not to sign a proposed letter to the Government was “disappointing”.

The letter, drafted with the help of Lord Kerslake, former Sheffield City Council chief executive and head of the Civil Service, was agreed by Doncaster and Barnsley councils three weeks ago.

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It calls for a statutory instrument to be introduced to reduce the four year Sheffield City Region mayoral term from four years to two, potentially smoothing the way for Doncaster and Barnsley to join a wider Yorkshire devolution agreement.

And it says none of the four South Yorkshire councils would block any of the others from “pursuing their preferred path on future arrangements”.

All of the 20 councils in Yorkshire, barring Sheffield and Rotherham, support a wider Yorkshire devolution deal, with the election of a Sheffield City Region mayor on May 3 seen as a stepping stone to this more ambitious arrangement.

In her blog post, Ros Jones wrote: “A widely supported proposal has therefore been put forward which we believe meets the needs of all parties, reflects the positions of all 20 Yorkshire Councils and, with the support of Government, could resolve the issue of devolution in Yorkshire.

“However, we are currently continuing to wait for agreement from Sheffield and Rotherham, so that we can start the process and have a unified position on devolution across the whole of Yorkshire.

“Clearly this is disappointing, as the situation could have been resolved some weeks ago. However, we will continue working to deliver our collective ambition of a wider Yorkshire devolution agreement, which involves Doncaster and Barnsley from the outset.”

In response, Rotherham council leader Chris Read said: “Rotherham has engaged constructively in proposals to bring devolution to South Yorkshire consistently over the last two years.

“I look forward to the selection of the Labour candidate this week and want to see whoever that person is elected so we can all move forward as soon as possible after May 3.”

Labour will tomorrow announce whether Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis or Sheffield city councillor Ben Curran will be its candidate for the Sheffield City Region mayoral role.