Doncaster mayor Ros Jones: Goverment finding Yorkshire devolution ‘difficult’ due to ‘influence region would have’

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones at the opening of the Great Yorkshire Way, FARRRS. Picture: Andrew Roe
Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones at the opening of the Great Yorkshire Way, FARRRS. Picture: Andrew Roe

Doncaster’s elected mayor Ros Jones has said Government are finding a proposed Yorkshire devolution plan ‘difficult’ due to the influence the region would have. 

The mayor spoke of her frustration on the current progress of working towards a county-wide deal. 

She said a letter signed by councils supporting the plan had been sent to Government urging ministers to take on the board the recent economic study which said a wider devolved deal could bring in between £10bn and £30bn. 

The mayor conceded one Government minister in particular had ‘political reservations’ about the plan. But Mayor Jones said there would be ‘no guarantee’ any future Yorkshire mayor would be from Labour. 

The plan has the support of 18 of the 20 authorities in Yorkshire alongside the backing of Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis. 

Sheffield and Rotherham are committed to signing the Sheffield City Region deal. 

But James Brokenshire - the top minister in charge of local government which includes devolution - recently told the BBC the current Sheffield City Region deal initially signed in 2015 should be honoured first before looking at a wider deal. 

Doncaster and Barnsley said in August 2017 they wanted to change course and pursue a wider county deal steered by Leeds. 

The two councils are against signing the deal to unlock millions of pounds worth of cash until they have assurances a Yorkshire deal will proceed in the near future – leaving current South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis with little powers. 

Mayor Jones said: "The economic case is a good one and I think we need the ministers to embrace this and listen to the people – here in Doncaster they overwhelming voted for a Yorkshire devolution deal and so did Barnsley. 

“Government are not giving this the proper credence it deserves and there is one minister who is so against this proposal.

“I think ministers are finding this very difficult because it will have one heck of a influence on what happens for the north. 

“It will be larger than Wales, as big as Scotland in terms of numbers of people and some of countries. A future Yorkshire devolved authority will have a ability to really sit at the table. You look at Northern Ireland on how they’re able to influence Government and not here when we’re one of the biggest regions.”

Speaking on reservations from one Government minister, Mayor Jones added: “This has total political buy-in cross party support from across the county. 

“They believe us being part of the wider deal gives us more numbers which are often Labour areas but we have lots of Tory areas. even within the our own council. 

“At this point we don’t know what colour party would hold such a seat or whether it would be a celebrity figure. 

“They really do need to take it seriously and it give it the investment it requires as well.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Brokenshire said:“We’ll continue to look at devolution arrangements for Yorkshire but the priority needs to be getting the Sheffield City Region deal up and running delivering for that community and people getting behind that deal to make it happen so we can then look at other devolution arrangements maybe appropriate for Yorkshire.”