Northern metro-mayors to get expanded devolution powers

West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the Liverpool City Region are to have more powers devolved over skills, transport and housing.

Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove made the announcement of extended devolution deals at the Convention of the North event held in Leeds today.

Level 4 devolution – a step before the trailblazer deals which are already in place in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands – will be given to the city region’s metro-mayors.

Gove labelled it as “a power surge for the North” and said “the theology is devolution, the reality is better lives for all”.

He said: “In real terms, it means more money, and a bigger capacity to make a difference for Tracy Brabin, Oliver Coppard and Steve Rotheram.”

“The opportunity to get on, access to the best jobs and the safe or decent home of your own are now within the reach of many more people.

“By giving local politicians more power with greater accountability, local people can then enjoy better jobs, higher wages, quicker journeys to work, more opportunities to learn, more access to better homes and an enhanced environment around them.”

South Yorkshire metro mayor Oliver Coppard sees the extension of powers as “a real step forward” on the way to a trailblazer devolution deal.

He said: “We want to see those same deals across the north and I think that’s where we want to get to, as far and as fast as we possibly can because we are ambitious for our region.”

Steve Rotheram, metro-mayor of Liverpool City Region, added: “It’s a vindication of what we’ve done over the last seven years in working, wherever possibly we could, hand in hand with the government not of our political persuasion, but certainly who has a similar sort of view of what the potential for our area might be now.”

West Yorkshire metro-mayor Tracy Brabin welcomed the increased powers that comes at a time when more areas, including North Yorkshire, are preparing for devolution powers to begin.

She said: “90% of [the North] is set to have a mayor, we are going to be a devolved region and in charge of our own destiny, and that’s why coming together really for the first time collaborating with a strategic plan for energy, for transport, for trade and investment, and also building those vibrant communities.

“I really do believe that this is the green shoots of hope that here we can make sure that the North becomes that northern powerhouse to really boost the whole of the UK economy.”

The four Northern Labour mayors along with the now-independent mayor Jamie Driscoll also issued a joint statement about their “ambitious plans for the Northern economy” at the Convention.

In a statement they said: “Our manifesto for the North will buck the trend of vested interests and a Whitehall-knows-best approach.

“We will stand up for all Northerners. And everybody in the country will reap the rewards through greater energy security, facing up to the climate crisis in a way that boosts the economy, and pouring billions of pounds back to the Exchequer.

“Devolution is the green shoot of hope. Gone are the days of cap-in-hand or pork-barrel politics. We will no longer accept the status quo of pitching areas of deprivation against one another.

“This can be a new dawn for British politics.

“We have proven time and again that if you want something delivered properly then you look to a Metro Mayor.

“Devolution is working, and by working in deeper partnership delivering our manifesto for the North, we will take this to the next level.”

Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, added: “Michael Gove has shown he is serious about resetting the power balance between local and central government – one of the founding missions of the original Northern Powerhouse.

“Fiscal independence is the only way to deliver real autonomy for mayors and single settlements are game-changing for the way combined authorities can operate, giving them greater flexibility over long-term economic planning.

“Cities such as Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and all their surrounding cities and towns stand to benefit now and we look forward to the North East and Tees Valley securing more as they demonstrate their readiness and capabilities.

“We also look forward to seeing proposals for far-reaching reform of our unfair council tax system from both parties and we hope the Chancellor commits to a long-overdue national property revaluation, which is a prerequisite for reform, at next week’s Budget.”