Barnsley and Doncaster attending ‘Whole Yorkshire’ devolution event

Coun Sir Steve Houghton CBE.
Coun Sir Steve Houghton CBE.

Barnsley and Doncaster council leaders are attending a ‘Whole Yorkshire’ devolution event in York - but Sheffield and Rotherham have declined the invitation.

Barnsley leader, Sir Steve Houghton, and Doncaster chief executive and mayor, Jo Miller and Ros Jones, are attending the event organised by West Yorkshire Combined Authority to discuss ‘how to achieve the best deal for the region’.

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones Picture: Chris Etchells

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones Picture: Chris Etchells

The move will ring alarm bells across Sheffield City Region. It was due to agree extra powers and £900m of funding in return for a metro-mayor. But the poll set for May was delayed by a year after a legal challenge.

Sir Steve and Ros Jones then announced they would explore a ‘whole Yorkshire’ deal with West Yorkshire leaders - and were hit by a storm of criticism. They later issued a statement saying they ‘were not walking away from anything’.

There is no devolution deal on the table anywhere else in Yorkshire. But organisers of the event say they will discuss “a Yorkshire deal with one mayor but a number of Combined Authorities delivering economic focus in an area.”

West Yorkshire Combined Authority chair, Coun Peter Box, said: “Tomorrow’s meeting is about identifying a committed ‘coalition of the willing’ who are keen to work together to resolve issues we are facing. Devolution and Brexit will affect our local economy and Yorkshire’s role at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse enormously.

“This collaborative approach is in contrast to Northern Powerhouse minister Andrew Percy who has so far opposed a Leeds City Region devolution deal – incredible and incredibly disappointing from a Yorkshire MP.

“It seems that unlike the majority of Yorkshire leaders, who have come together today to look at how they can achieve the greatest success for their citizens Andrew Percy seems is working on how to keep us divided.”

Leaders of up to 20 Yorkshire councils are attending the meeting although apologies have been received from a number including Sheffield and Rotherham and Scarborough, he added.