From Yorkshire Post, May 23rd, 2018
Written by Arj Singh
Asian powerhouse economies like China and India recognise the potential of the Yorkshire economy as a whole, an MP said yesterday in response to scepticism about the benefits of a pan-region devolution deal. Labour MP John Grogan suggested the region would see a boost in international investment if it could win back powers and money from Westminster under a ‘One Yorkshire’ agreement. He was responding to Wakefield council leader Peter Box, who has backed pan-Yorkshire devolution, but rated the prospect of a deal as “unlikely”.
Despite being one of the 18 out of Yorkshire’s 20 council leaders to ask Prime Minister Theresa May for a Yorkshire mayor by 2020, Mr Box echoed sceptics by insisting the region is “not a functional economic area”, and criticising supporters for focussing on the brand. Mr Grogan told The Yorkshire Post: “I think the crucial thing now is to wait for the Government’s response to the plan for all Yorkshire devolution by 2020 put forward by 18 councils. “Only yesterday the Chancellor no less told me in Parliament that the Government was looking at this ‘carefully’. “
Let’s wait and see what response comes back. “I think when Yorkshire businesses and council leaders visit markets like China and India seeking trade deals and investment the concept of the Yorkshire economy is readily understood.” The Keighley MP also warned Ministers not to upset Tory council leaders in Yorkshire, all of whom have backed the deal. “I remain optimistic particularly as every Tory council in Yorkshire has endorsed the plans and Ministers are very aware of that,” he said. Mr Box warned that people in Wakefield do not want to see the creation of more politicians as part of any devolution deal. Wakefield’s council polls earlier this month saw a turnout of just under 27 per cent – a figure the Labour group leader attributed to “election fatigue” and apathy with politicians “of all kinds”. Mr Box said “any bureaucracy and red tape” must be kept to an absolute minimum.
“I know from talking to people in this district (Wakefield) that the last thing anyone wants is more politicians or bureaucrats. “I do not know of anyone who is seriously suggesting that one person can “run” Yorkshire. “We must make sure therefore that there will be a strong element of local control.” Wakefield MP Mary Creagh stressed voters in places with a third tier of government like Wales with its Assembly or Manchester and its metro mayor “would not dream of” scrapping them. She said: “The additional tier of government would need a team of full-time staff, kept to a minimum, and a leader. “Whether that leader is directly elected or appointed from among Yorkshire’s 21 leaders, they will be a strong champion for attracting investment, improving services and devolving powers to Yorkshire.”