By Lyndsey Hall
Political leaders from Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield have agreed a devolution deal, after four years of discussions. A deal for South Yorkshire will go to public consultation later this year, after a Mayoral Combined Authority meeting.
The original deal, for Sheffield City Region, was struck in October 2015 proposing a directly-elected mayor. The mayor would have power over transport, strategic planning and skills in the region, as well as a £900m budget over 30 years. But the agreement was held back by a rival plan for a pan-Yorkshire deal.
The latest announcement suggests the South Yorkshire deal will now go ahead, almost 2 years after Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis was elected. Jarvis has been MP for Barnsley Central since 2011.
The four council leaders, Stephen Houghton from Barnsley, Ros Jones from Doncaster, Chris Read from Rotherham and Julie Dore from Sheffield, along with Mr Jarvis, said that the deal “represents a significant step forward in securing additional powers and resources for our region”.
Jarvis added: “We stand at a critical moment for our country. As we leave the European Union, securing further powers and resources for South Yorkshire and building greater cooperation across Yorkshire will ensure we are best prepared for whatever Brexit brings.”
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, said: “Today’s news represents a considerable step forward in our mission to devolve more power, money and responsibility back to the people of the North.”
He said he was “delighted” that “significant progress is now being made to implement this ambitious agreement in full”.
He added: “Unlocking this devolution deal will be a game changing opportunity to unleash the potential of South Yorkshire ensuring your locally elected Mayor has a war chest of power and money to drive jobs and growth.”
The South Yorkshire deal does not mean there may never be a One Yorkshire arrangement; once it is proved the smaller plans work, merging for an overall agreement could be possible. Both Barnsley and Doncaster councils were in favour of the pan-Yorkshire deal, and were concerned they would be trapped in a South Yorkshire deal and therefore unable to join any Yorkshire-wide arrangement for at least 30 years. However, it was agreed that should Barnsley and Doncaster leave, Sheffield and Rotherham would keep their allocated funding and powers.
What do you think of the plans for a South Yorkshire devolution deal? Are you in favour of a One Yorkshire arrangement, or would you prefer to keep the devolution deals for North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire separate? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Linkedin and Twitter.