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James Brokenshire accused of 'putting up barriers' to Yorks devo

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The housing and communities secretary has been criticised for his intransigence on discussing devolution plans with Yorkshire leaders.

The leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake (Lab) told LGC that many council leaders were “incredibly disappointed” in James Brokenshire as he was “clearly” putting up barriers to the ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution proposal.

Cllr Blake said: “The council leaders who have come together to support the One Yorkshire proposal were incredibly disappointed that James Brokenshire has declined to meet with us to discuss the proposal we have.”

Mr Brokenshire said in July that the government is not prepared to discuss further devolution for Yorkshire until after the Sheffield City Region deal is “fully implemented”.

When asked if she saw Mr Brokenshire as the main stumbling block to devolution, Cllr Blake said: “Yes, exactly.”

Cllr Blake said: “I find it difficult to understand [why Mr Brokenshire has refused to meet local leaders] because he hasn’t heard the detail from us about what we’re intending to do. Clearly he is putting up barriers connected to the situation in South Yorkshire which, in our view, shouldn’t be a barrier at all.

“We’ve got absolutely no problem with the money being released for South Yorkshire and we believe we can work in parallel to achieve our wider aspiration for the One Yorkshire deal.”

Should a meeting with Mr Brokenshire not be forthcoming, Cllr Blake said leaders would be “very happy” to continue meeting with Treasury officials instead.

“The former devolution deals were mainly brokered through the Treasury and we’re very keen to make sure that they understand the amount of work we’ve done on the economic case for devolution,” Cllr Blake said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government said: “We want the Sheffield City Region to enjoy the full benefits of its 2015 deal, including £900m of investment. Launching a consultation on new powers and constitutional arrangements is the first step to delivering that deal, and progressing this is in the hands of local councils.

“The city region’s mayor Dan Jarvis was elected on a commitment to implement the deal in full as a first step towards negotiating a wider Yorkshire deal. Once the Sheffield City Region deal is implemented we will be ready to consider devolution proposals for Yorkshire more widely.”

 

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