Scarborough Council leader "not overwhelmed" by devolution plans

The leader of Scarborough Council has said that any One Yorkshire devolution deal must ensure local decision making is maintained and that residents give it their backing.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 1:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 3:46 pm
Scarborough Town Hall. Picture by Richard Ponter

Cllr Steve Siddons updated his fellow borough councillors this week on the latest proposals from the Government, saying he was “not overwhelmed” at the idea of creating an interim authority to cover York and North Yorkshire.

The Labour councillor said the leaders of York, North Yorkshire County Council and the districts, East Riding and Hull had been in discussion with the Minister for Northern Powerhouse, Jake Berry.

The One Yorkshire devolution could mean up to £30bn per year could be added to the Yorkshire economy.

Council leader Steve Siddons. Picture by Richard Ponter

Cllr Siddons told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Jake Berry has re-iterated the Government’s commitment to a One Yorkshire to council leaders.

“But the Minister has told the council leaders that the Government wasn’t planning to proceed directly to One Yorkshire, it proposes to have interim arrangements which would see three or four separate devolution deals in Yorkshire, each with a Mayor heading a combined authority.

“Three deals would bring together York, North Yorkshire, York, Hull & East Yorkshire as one, geographically large, authority alongside a Leeds City Region authority and a South Yorkshire authority.

“Alternatively four deals means bringing York and North Yorkshire back together as one, and Hull and East Yorkshire as another to give two, smaller populated, combined authorities alongside Leeds City Region South Yorkshire.

“Whilst I have agreed to support continued negotiations and am in regular contact with other leaders, I am not overwhelmed by the likely financial benefits for an interim York and North Yorkshire combined authority that was suggested which would deliver a fraction of the £30bn on offer.

“Any change to Yorkshire’s councils must retain local decision making and have local people’s consent. Any future model must have clear lines of authority directly from local people to any future combined authority. It is the key to a successful devolution.”

The majority of Yorkshire Leaders, including Mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis, support a One Yorkshire devolution deal that could be in place in 2022.

Cllr Siddons added: “The Government can’t ignore that current support is for One Yorkshire devolution together with strong local councils – not a Westminster ‘quarter’ or ‘half a Yorkshire’ political fix.

“Clearly, one strong Yorkshire is better than weak quarters. And if local councils were retained and had good representation on a One Yorkshire Combined Authority we could have new economic clout and keep strong local representation.

“With the Government planning to devolve more transport powers and health spending to Yorkshire, adding the current county transport and care roles to these would make sense and a One Yorkshire Combined Authority with local councils fully represented on it could bring an efficient replacement to the current inefficient multi-tiers we have in North Yorkshire.”