Javid ‘try­ing to bully us’ on de­vo­lu­tion

Coun­cils warned over al­ter­na­tive plans

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES REED PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR Email: james.reed@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @JamesReedYP

COM­MU­NI­TIES SEC­RE­TARY Sa­jid Javid was last night ac­cused of try­ing to “bully” coun­cil lead­ers ahead of a crunch meet­ing on de­vo­lu­tion to York­shire.

Mr Javid warned the Gov­ern­ment will not lis­ten to any pro­posal for York­shire to take more con­trol over its own af­fairs which in­cludes South York­shire.

His in­ter­ven­tion comes ahead of a meet­ing on Mon­day to de­cide the fu­ture of the Sh­effield City Re­gion de­vo­lu­tion deal.

The deal should see South York­shire re­ceive new pow­ers and £30m a year in ex­tra fund­ing over­seen by a mayor to be elected in May. But it has been be­set by prob­lems and over the sum­mer Don­caster and Barns­ley in­di­cated they now wanted to pur­sue an al­ter­na­tive deal, agreed in prin­ci­ple with 15 other coun­cils, known as “One York­shire”.

Rother­ham and Sh­effield have main­tained their sup­port for the Sh­effield City Re­gion deal and Mr Javid’s let­ter amounts to a warn­ing to Barns­ley and Don­caster that if they walk away on Mon­day they could miss out on the ben­e­fits of de­vo­lu­tion al­to­gether.

It is un­der­stood Barns­ley and Don­caster are un­likely to change their po­si­tion.

But there were signs Mr Javid’s let­ter might have had an im­pact else­where as Har­ro­gate Coun­cil leader Richard Cooper, who had pre­vi­ously sup­ported “One York­shire”, de­scribed the Gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion as “un­der­stand­able” and called for North, West and East York­shire to progress a deal.

Writ­ing to coun­cil lead­ers and MPs, Mr Javid said the Gov­ern­ment “will not con­sider any pro­posal for a York­shire-wide deal that in­volved one or more of the four South York­shire coun­cils”.

Mr Javid sug­gested pur­su­ing the Sh­effield City Re­gion deal was sup­ported by “key busi­nesses” and “the ben­e­fits are among the high­est of the North­ern deals”.

Keigh­ley MP John Grogan said: “This is a last-gasp at­tempt by the Sec­re­tary of State to try and bully the South York­shire coun­cils ahead of their meet­ing next week.

“He may well find that the days of White­hall dic­tat­ing to the peo­ple of York­shire about what is best for them are well and truly over.

“If the South York­shire deal col­lapses I ex­pect the Gov­ern­ment to re­vise their stance.”

Ar­eas in­clud­ing Greater Manch­ester, Tees Val­ley and the West Mid­lands have agreed de­vo­lu­tion deals, elect­ing may­ors and tak­ing over pow­ers in ar­eas such as trans­port and plan­ning from White­hall but York­shire has strug­gled to fol­low suit.

This is a last­gasp at­tempt to try and bully South York­shire coun­cils. Keigh­ley MP John Grogan.

SA­JID JAVID is damned by his own words as he pours cold scorn on York­shire’s ef­forts to fi­nalise a land­mark de­vo­lu­tion deal that has the po­ten­tial to be truly trans­for­ma­tive. Dis­mis­sive of con­certed ef­forts here to find com­mon ground, the Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary then has the ill-ad­vised temer­ity to say there needs to be “a bot­tomup ap­proach”.

Just like his ar­ro­gant Cab­i­net col­league Chris Grayling who told the North last month to sort out its own trans­port dif­fi­cul­ties, Mr Javid’s rank hypocrisy is an­other poor re­flec­tion of this Gov­ern­ment’s strained re­la­tion­ship with York­shire. He would be ad­vised to think again.

Hav­ing been re­peat­edly chal­lenged by Min­is­ters to come up with a cred­i­ble plan, this re­gion’s lead­ers have, in fact, put po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, and lo­cal ri­val­ries, to one side to fi­nalise an am­bi­tious and dy­namic plan which would make York­shire’s mayor the sec­ond most pow­er­ful in the coun­try, af­ter Lon­don.

Seven­teen out of 20 coun­cils have reached an united po­si­tion – in­clud­ing Barns­ley and Don­caster – while a meet­ing on Mon­day will ex­am­ine South York­shire’s op­tions.

Those op­tions must be­gin with all sides ac­knowl­edg­ing the qual­ity of the work done by South York­shire’s lead­ers be­fore us­ing this wholly un­rea­son­able salvo from Mr Javid to fur­ther gal­vanise the com­ing-to­gether of the One York­shire de­vo­lu­tion propo­si­tion.

This re­gion de­serves bet­ter from the Min­is­ter. As The York­shire Post stated when 17 coun­cil lead­ers signed their un­prece­dented joint let­ter to Mr Javid, a thriv­ing York­shire econ­omy can only ben­e­fit Great Bri­tain as a whole. The pity is that the Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary seems not to recog­nise this be­cause he clearly wants de­vo­lu­tion on his terms so there’s no threat to his au­thor­ity – or depart­ment. It is a stance that is not sus­tain­able and must, there­fore, not de­ter this re­gion’s lead­ers from the jour­ney they’ve started.

Said al­ter­na­tive de­vo­lu­tion plans cov­er­ing South York­shire would be ig­nored. SA­JID JAVID:

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