Support for Yorkshire mayor idea fades

THE idea of a single elected mayor running the whole of Yorkshire is all but dead in the water, it can be revealed.

By James Reed, Political Correspondent
Friday, 3rd July 2015, 2:00 am

West Yorkshire council leaders have agreed to press ahead with a devolution plan focused on the area known as the Leeds City Region - which includes some of West Yorkshire’s neighbours - believing that is the best way for powers transferred from Whitehall to have the quickest impact on the economy.

There has been no formal acceptance of the need for an elected mayor but with the Government insisting on one as a condition of devolving significant powers there will be an agreement to consider “governance models”.

It is further understood that while leaders in South Yorkshire have been willing to examine any region-wide proposal they had significant concerns about whether it could work and in the light of West Yorkshire’s decision are now likely to push forward with plans focused on the Sheffield City Region, which includes parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

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While there is an acknowledgement that Yorkshire has a strong identity in areas such as sport and culture, those close to the discussions in both the south and west of the region argue the focus of devolution should be on maximising jobs and growth.

Both areas have well-developed economic plans backed by business drawn up as part of previous agreements with the Government and are keen to use any new powers to accelerate those.

Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady has championed the idea of a single Yorkshire devolution deal and last night Conservative council and group leaders called for for any devolution settlement to recognise “the identity of Yorkshire as a whole”.

North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les said: “We recognise fully the economic powerhouse that is West Yorkshire, but our ambition for the benefit of all our residents must go far beyond that.

“Ministers are describing this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and are challenging local government to produce bids to demonstrate that they can step up to meet that challenge to take more local control of decision making.

“We believe we can meet that challenge as a greater Yorkshire,”