Javid ‘trying to bully us’ on devolution
Councils warned over alternative plans
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: