Devolution case gathers momentum

A strong proposal to Government to deliver a One Yorkshire devolution deal by May 2020 has been submitted by the majority of Yorkshire’s local authorities.  Eighteen of the 20 councils in the region are now signed up to this idea – only Rotherham and Sheffield are not on board with the scheme.

The submission follows the request for such a proposal made by Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid, at a Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire APPG meeting recently.

It is proposing an elected Mayor for Yorkshire by 2020 with powers to support adult skills provision and co-design employment support. The devolution deal would also have “the ability to create a joined up approach with a focus on connecting the people of Yorkshire to job opportunities, including through a single Yorkshire smart travel ticket.”

Such a deal would enable a Yorkshire Combined Authority to create an Investment Fund of more than £3.75bn via a 30-year ‘gain-share revenue stream’ and locally raised finance. The proposal includes the phrase: “An incoming Yorkshire Mayor would have the option, subject to primary legislation, and on the basis of support from local business, to raise a business rates supplement.”

The submission adds: “This Deal represents a first step in a progressive process of devolution of funding, powers and responsibilities to Yorkshire Combined Authority and a directly elected Mayor for Yorkshire. As well as the funding and powers set out in this deal, Yorkshire Combined Authority working with its constituent authorities and Government will continue to consider further opportunities for devolution.”

Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hambleton, Harrogate, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, Wakefield and York Councils all agreed on the submission. Sheffield and Rotherham would be able, if they were so minded, to join at a later date.

The One Yorkshire deal proposed states: “Deal to be based on the widest possible Yorkshire geography conditional on Government enabling all 20 Yorkshire Councils to join – if they so choose – by May 2020.  Should Sheffield and Rotherham choose to not join the deal, it is recognised that arrangements may need to be made to ensure the integration of transport across South Yorkshire.”

The document outlining proposed terms of an agreement between the 18 Yorkshire council leaders/representatives and Government states: “The delivery of this devolution agreement is central to Yorkshire’s collective drive to unleash the full economic potential of a region with an established international brand, an economy twice the size of Wales and a population the same as Scotland.  At its heart is a desire to accelerate the pace of rebalancing prosperity, to play a central role in a confident outward looking UK economy and embrace the opportunities of the digital age and to do so through self-reliance, self-help and self-sufficiency.

It goes on to say:  “The plan to create a single mayoral combined authority for Yorkshire by May 2020 addresses the requirement for these ambitions to be delivered through clear accountable arrangements which avoid duplication and additional costly and burdensome bureaucracy. However, more profoundly, it does so based on the strong, shared, internationally-recognised Yorkshire identity and brand.  Public support for mayoral arrangements to align with an existing identity which complements – rather than competes – with their powerful allegiance to village, town or city, is clear. This proposal will establish a Yorkshire mayor with the capacity to be a powerful symbol of common endeavour within the region and as an ambassador for it nationally and internationally.  This document sets out how important it is to place powers “where they will have maximum impact while retaining the overarching benefits of regional coherence and co-operation.”