AN INFLUENTIAL politician has warning that trying to create a Yorkshire-wide combined authority will damage the region’s efforts to win devolved powers from London.
Speaking at Wakefield Business Week, Peter Box, chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said the vast majority of the civil service does not believe in devolution and acts as “a brake on innovation in this country”. He said: “When we talk about trying to create a Yorkshire combined authority or some kind of Yorkshire structure now, trust me it will be an excuse for delay after delay after delay.
“Let’s try to get a deal based on what we have got now and then build up from it because long experience teaches me if we go for something bigger now like Yorkshire or the North it will be an excuse.”
He said the region should see what powers are available from the Government and if they are sufficiently strong and include fiscal devolution, local authorities can then consult informally as widely as they can.
Roger Marsh, chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said whatever the governance constructs are, “those tails shouldn’t wag the economic outcome dog”.
Last week, Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, said he had begun discussions with Yorkshire councils about joining forces to secure a single devolution deal for the whole area.
The Government has promised to hand significant powers to areas as part of its Northern Powerhouse plan to rebalance the economy, but has made clear it expects areas to have elected mayors as part of any deal.