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Yorkshire councils form ‘coalition of willing’ in devolution deal bid

Seventeen councils – including Leeds, Bradford and Hull but not Sheffield and Rotherham – have come together with a Yorkshire Day declaration.

Several Yorkshire councils have made a Yorkshire Day declaration that they are forming a “coalition of the willing” to work towards a single devolution deal for the region.

Local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber have trailed behind colleagues on the other side of the Pennines in their attempts to take advantage of government inducements for regional devolution based on the principle of elected mayors.

Despite a range of proposals, councils have found it difficult to agree anything like a pan-Yorkshire deal with the biggest schism being between Sheffield and the rest of the county.

Sheffield and other councils in South Yorkshire and the north Midlands agreed a deal with the government for the Sheffield City Region, which was to be sealed with the election of a mayor in June.

However, the election was postponed following a court ruling about a flawed consultation process – a decision which reignited the debate about the best way forward.

Following the deal, Doncaster and Barnsley said they were also looking at an outline proposal from West Yorkshire for a whole Yorkshire devolution option.

Strains within the South Yorkshire grouping have also intensified with disputes over the siting of an HS2 station in the region.

Now 17 Yorkshire councils – including Leeds, Bradford and Hull but not Sheffield and Rotherham – have come together with a Yorkshire Day declaration.

The statement said: “Today is Yorkshire Day and therefore it seems right to talk today about our county, its ambitions and our identity.

“Last Friday, Yorkshire leaders met in York in a positive and constructive meeting and agreed that they have strong common cause. The county is big enough and bold enough to want to carve out its own destiny.

“Leaders were focused on increasing productivity and growing an inclusive economy that works for all. The leaders agreed unanimously to form a ‘coalition of the willing’, working towards securing a single ambitious devolution deal for the Yorkshire authorities and areas wanting to work together on this basis.”

The local authorities represented at the meeting were Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hambleton, Harrogate, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and York.

The statement continued: “This would in the first instance be based on the government’s present requirements of a directly elected mayor with clear responsibilities yet to be determined.

“All leaders present, including Barnsley and Doncaster, supported this approach as well as supporting a deal for Sheffield and Rotherham, should they seek to pursue that as an option.

“Leaders plan to meet again in early September to decide how best to take this negotiation forward with Government at pace and with local backing.”

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