Wakefield may be 'starved' of cash if council backs out of West Yorkshire devolution deal, leader warns

The leader of Wakefield Council has suggested the district may be "starved" of cash if it refuses support a West Yorkshire devolution deal.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 3:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 3:17 pm

The political heads of the region's five local authorities have been thrashing out a power transfer agreement with government ministers this week.

Denise Jeffery, who leads Wakefield Council, told her elected members that the government wants the deal to be ratified by March 11 at a council meeting on Wednesday.

The proposed arrangement would see a region-wide elected mayor put in place, something that's been a sticking point in previous negotiations.

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A devolution deal for West Yorkshire appears close after months of haggling.

Coun Jeffery said there were still "complications to be sorted out", but that she was confident that Wakefield would benefit from the deal.

She said: "I do feel this is the only game in town.

"If we don't go for this deal then we will be starved of funding because we won't fit in with what the others are doing."

Coun Jeffery said that the deal was preferable to a One Yorkshire agreement, which would have tied the whole region together but was rejected by local leaders last year.

Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery

"We don't have anything in common with North Yorkshire," Coun Jeffery added.

"When the minister talked about the deal, every time he referred to it as a West Yorkshire deal, rather than a Leeds City Region deal, which he makes me feel it will be so much more accommodating for Wakefield."

Talks over devolved powers for Yorkshire have rumbled on since 2015, months after Scotland rejected independence in a referendum.

The leader of the Conservative opposition in Wakefield, Nadeem Ahmed, said he supported the deal, adding,"We should go ahead with what's on the table now."

Local Democracy Reporting Service