The conference heard from a wide range of speakers representing different political parties, local government, business, trade unions and civil society along with the Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry.
Stewart spoke at the day’s final panel discussion: “I remain positive that we can get a One Yorkshire devolution settlement after today’s conference but I do think the Minister underestimates the strength of support there is behind the idea.
“Where tested there is an appetite for the One Yorkshire proposal. We saw the overwhelming votes in Barnsley and Doncaster in 2017 in the local referendum in favour of One Yorkshire. More recently in last year’s election for the Sheffield City Region Mayor candidates in favour of One Yorkshire collectively achieved over two-thirds of the vote.
“And, of course, the very fact that the Yorkshire Party was formed and I would say has prospered in its relatively short history, is testament to that appetite for the shifting of powers from London to Yorkshire.
“However, we should be getting on with this. The problem will be if we come back after all of this time with something seemingly worthless with limited budgets – a bit of local economic management, bus route management and so on – the people would be outraged rightly that we have talked this long for essentially nothing.
“We have a duty to provide real meaningful devolution which can have a positive impact on people‘s lives, the economy and environment.
“So I want us to be ambitious in what we want from devolution. The Scottish Government has an annual budget of £35bn – all sorts of things can be done with that sort of money. For example they’ve scrapped tolls on bridges and reopened railway lines shut since the days of Beeching. We could do the same in Yorkshire or we could set entirely different priorities. Either way it should be up to us.
“In short, Yorkshire devolution has to be an opportunity for nothing less than a complete economic, social and Democratic renewal of our region.”