Stewart Arnold Picture: Robbie MacDonald
Campaigners for a One Yorkshire devolution deal have been given a double boost after the Conservative Government set out plans for North-of-the-Tyne devolution taking in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland; and Lord Heseltine, the Conservative former Minister, confirmed his support for Greater Yorkshire deal taking in all the region’s big cities.
Stewart Arnold, Leader of the Yorkshire Party, said of the proposed North of the Tyne deal: “This is a major misstep by the Government, as one of the big lines they are pushing against One Yorkshire is that it isn’t a ‘functional economic area’, using the line that Yorkshire has different economic priorities around the region, and isn’t a ‘travel to work area’ like the Sheffield City Region is.
“However, the North of Tyne deal splits Gateshead off from Newcastle (Gateshead is, after all, south of the Tyne). If Sheffield and Chesterfield are a bit close in terms of economics, Newcastle and Gateshead are right on top of each other.
“This decision puts the ‘functional economic area’ idea absolutely to bed.
“The Government can never again claim that One Yorkshire is not appropriate because it isn’t an economic area – when they’ve just approved a model that clearly also isn’t a functional economic area.”
In a further development, Lord Heseltine has written to a Yorkshire Party member in Harrogate stating: ‘My personal view is that the best solution (to Yorkshire devolution) would include Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and the other areas in one Greater Yorkshire”.
Stewart added: “The battle for One Yorkshire has been given a double boost today by the Conservative Party!”