The future of devolution in Yorkshire
This follows an invitation from John Grogan, MP for Keighley, who spoke in the House of Commons on 10th October 2017 in favour of an all-Yorkshire devolution deal:
‘We need a strong political voice in Yorkshire to argue for things such as better transport. Transport spending in Yorkshire is only £1 per head compared with £10 per head in London. We in Yorkshire are also 20% more likely to die young than those in the south-east, so we need a strong political voice to change things in our society.’
He went on to ask Jake Berry MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the DCLG and Minister for the Northern Powerhouse: ‘Would the Minister accept an invitation from the Archbishop of York, even if he will not initiate talks himself, to take part in talks on Yorkshire devolution and how the people of Yorkshire can get what many of the great cities of England already have?’
A Sheffield City Region deal, approved by the Government in 2015, stalled in September after the leaders of the two of the councils involved — Barnsley and Doncaster — voted against it, saying that they wanted to pursue a Yorkshire-wide deal in its place.
In response to the request from the MP for Keighley, and following a meeting with Jake Berry, MP, Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Archbishop Sentamu gathered a small group of MPs, Council Leaders, Bishops, and other leaders from across Yorkshire, on November 25th. This group's aim was to work out how the South Yorkshire deal could go ahead without delay, and to explore possible ways forward for a wider devolution plan across Yorkshire. He then wrote to Jake Berry MP, signalling to him the determination of those present, should the occasion arise, to engage in further talks about a one-Yorkshire deal, with the South Yorkshire deal as a first step towards this.
Jake Berry had already told MPs in October that the Sheffield deal, worth £900 million, was 'the start of devolution, not the end of it', making it clear that the mayoral election for the region would in any case go ahead in May 2018.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, having previously said that any all-Yorkshire deal could not include any of the South Yorkshire boroughs, suggested on 20th December that to join in the wider consultation, they should first get back on board with the Sheffield City Region deal. However, the Minister is reported to have indicated that once the £900m Sheffield City Region agreement has been fully implemented, some or all of the councils may choose to join in the wider Yorkshire plan, providing that all the region's other authorities have agreed on a pan-Yorkshire deal.
Further talks on an all-Yorkshire devolution proposal have now been called for by leaders from across the political parties, from unions, and from business.
For Archbishop Sentamu, these talks are an essential step towards a resolution that will maximise the benefit to all parts of Yorkshire.
It is time to consult with leaders of councils & civic groups. We must work together. Many Peoples, Boroughs, Councils and Counties, but One YorkshireArchbishop John Sentamu