Just under a month ago, in the pages of the Yorkshire Post, we outlined why we wanted to explore the potential for a new Yorkshire-wide devolution agreement.
It followed a number of significant developments, ranging from a judicial review finding against the Sheffield City Region, to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
We set out our belief that a ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution solution would place our great county in its rightful position; at the top table, with a powerful voice and the ability to drive real economic change for the benefit of our people, our businesses and our communities. It would allow us to capitalise on our size, our world class assets and our internationally renowned brand. Indeed a single Yorkshire devolution agreement would be second to none, putting Yorkshire not just in the same league as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
Since then, good progress has been made.
By uniting with colleagues from across the region it is clear that the prize is now within our grasp. Critically, the Government has also indicated that it is listening.
A further meeting of Yorkshire local authority leaders reaffirmed that the ‘coalition of the willing’ remains strong and committed. Seventeen authorities are already involved, representing more than four million of Yorkshire’s residents. We hope that this will soon become a full complement of Yorkshire’s twenty authorities, with everyone in Yorkshire benefiting from new decision making powers and funding devolved from Whitehall.
That movement has been bolstered by others, with support from businesses, Trade Unions, MPs, members of the public and of course the Yorkshire Post. The wide ranging cross party consensus has also demonstrated that local politicians - far from conforming to the tribal stereotype so often portrayed - are quite willing and able to work together for the greater good.
As a result, real momentum has been created in a short space of time and it is crucial that this momentum is maintained. One Yorkshire must therefore remain our clear priority.
Next week the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority will meet to discuss its future, with a range of options on the table. We will of course consider those options carefully. Doncaster and Barnsley have always played our part in making the Sheffield City Region a success and we take our responsibilities seriously. South Yorkshire must, and will, maintain its can-do attitude and proven track record of getting things done.
Across our boroughs we are already delivering economic growth, housing development and new opportunities, but we are also looking to the future. That is why we are minded to keep our attention focused – first and foremost - on securing the One Yorkshire devolution agreement that has evaded us all for too long.
This does not mean we are intent on immediately disbanding Sheffield City Region. We are not, and we would of course be willing to consider interim solutions that may be viable.
However this must not divert us from our key priority, so our next objective is clear. We will work with our colleagues across this great county, to secure a One Yorkshire devolution agreement with Government. Everything else should follow from that.