Northern powerhouse minister Jake Berry blamed councils in Yorkshire for a failure to get a deal in place as it emerged one council has pulled out of the One Yorkshire bid.
In a statement earlier today, Hambleton DC leader Mark Robson (Con) said he was “removing” the council from the “coalition of the willing” of 18 Yorkshire councils that had backed the bid for devolution to the historic county of Yorkshire after the communities secretary’s rejection of it yesterday.
In a letter sent to Yorkshire leaders yesterday James Brokenshire said the bid did not meet the government’s criteria for a devolution deal.
Cllr Robson added: “If, however, other devolution proposals transpire that do meet the government’s criteria I would be happy to consider them, providing they achieve tangible benefits for the residents of Hambleton.”
Speaking to LGC Cllr Robson said he had “always been a bit sceptical” about devolution to an area the size of Yorkshire.
Explaining his decision to pull out, when other councils in the bid are pursuing a further meeting with government, he said: “I have spent more than enough of my time and officer time trying to get to a point of resolution and clearly the minster has said it’s not going to happen.”
Mr Brokenshire’s letter said ministers would be prepared to consider proposals for devolution to “Leeds City Region, York and North Yorkshire and the Humber Estuary”.
Cllr Robson said: “For me North Yorkshire and York city would be another possibility, however I’m not sure if York [City Council] would want to go down that route.”
York, along with the North Yorkshire districts of Harrogate BC, Selby and Craven, are members of the Leeds City Region Combined Authority and signed up to a devolution bid that was rejected by government in April 2017 on the grounds it did not have “local stakeholder” support.
This followed North Yorkshire CC’s objection to handing over any transport powers in relation to its districts while some local Conservative MPs were also said to have been opposed to a deal on the geography of the Leeds City Region as it would make it likely a Labour mayor would be elected.
However, in an interview on BBC Leeds radio yesterday Mr Berry blamed councils for the fact a deal had not been agreed.
He said: “What we have seen over the several years that have passed since we first started talking about devolution in West Yorkshire is that it hasn’t been government that has delayed it, it’s been the refusal of local authorities to get on with it.”
He added: “We’ll happily talk to them about a Leeds City Region bid. Obviously, all of these bids will need some updating. It’s really for local leaders now to come forward and talk about how they can drive forward our shared ambition for the norther powerhouse.
“The letter set out today the government’s ambition to see devolution in West Yorkshire. Let’s have a powerful elected mayor who can on a global scale talk about the opportunities in and around Leeds.”