MINISTER: Sheffield City Region devolution no barrier to Yorkshire deal

Communities Minister Jake Berry
Communities Minister Jake Berry

The Northern Powerhouse minister has assured politicians that signing up to devolution in Sheffield City Region would not prevent them joining a Yorkshire deal in future.

Jake Berry MP said he believed the offer - for £900m over 30 years, devolved powers and a ‘metro mayor’ - would bring significant benefits and put an extra £50m ‘firmly in control of local leaders’ every year from 2018.

The deal is on hold so Doncaster Council elected mayor Ros Jones and Sir Steve Houghton, Barnsley leader, can explore a ‘One Yorkshire’ proposal.

The idea has the support of 17 of 20 Yorkshire councils but the Government has said there are no plans for a county-wide scheme.

In a letter to MPs, Mr Berry said: ‘Implementing the Sheffield City Region devolution deal in no way precludes the South Yorkshire councils in future joining another Yorkshire deal, were this to be agreed with Government and all the councils involved.’

He added: ‘Even if any other Yorkshire deal were to be agreed in the future, it is likely that it would not be agreed and implemented for several years.

‘So if a council walks away now, South Yorkshire would still be likely to lose some £100m and more, which the current deal would give them before the advent of that other Yorkshire deal.’

Elections are going ahead even if Barnsley and Doncaster walk away, but the mayor would have ‘no new powers nor money’ and taxpayers would be hit with election costs of more than £1m, he added.

‘Some still talk of a wider pan-Yorkshire deal. I simply do not see this as a possibility. Consent by the 20 councils is very unlikely.

‘Nor do I believe that a deal and governance across the whole of Yorkshire, given its scale and diversity, would deliver the benefits the proponents seek.’

Earlier this week, the boss of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Robert Hough, chairman of Peel Airports, urged politicians to make a decision on Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal to take advantage of the “massive opportunities.”