'Super LEP' can show way ahead
Devolved power for Yorkshire has become a deeply controversial and political issue in recent years.
But while talks over a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal remain deadlocked, I was pleased to see two of our region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships approve plans to merge.
The move would see York, North Yorkshire and East Riding combine with the Leeds City Region to form a single body, responsible for significant potential investment to boost economic growth and social inclusion.
It’s about time Yorkshire played to our strength in the Super League with our own Super LEP.
The proposed new LEP would cover 4,000 square miles and 8% of England, bringing together cities of international standing with rural and coastal communities. This diverse geography could be challenging for one organisation to represent but, to my mind, the merger is a sensible solution.
It is driven by a central government review, which aims to build on the achievements of LEPs so far and strengthen their accountability, ready to take on responsibility for the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, set to replace European funding post-Brexit.
It could also remove those curious overlaps that, for example, make Barnsley a member of both the Sheffield and Leeds LEPs (it is expected to remain within Sheffield only).
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and our IoD Council Member for Yorkshire and the North East, issued a joint statement with his York, North Yorkshire and East Riding counterpart David Kerfoot, which talked of a “combined engine for extraordinary economic growth.”
I have previously gone on record with my support for a One Yorkshire devolution deal, but in whatever guise that may take to better our region.
There is no reason why we cannot come together more powerfully through two, three or even four mayors representing different parts of our region. Indeed, the chairmanship of One Yorkshire could rotate through the mayors on one-year terms, ensuring each area has an equal voice and we really do become one.
Dare I say it, this could even be expanded across the entire Northern Powerhouse to amplify our message back to Whitehall and the global stage – but perhaps let’s take one step at a time, and one in the right direction!
I would love 2019 to be the year when we finally unravel the knots that are holding back devolution. With that in mind, we will be holding a breakfast event in Harrogate on 10 January to discuss how we can transport the North into the future. Our guest speakers will include Dr Alan James, formerly of Virgin Hyperloop One, the new mode of transport that carries passengers or cargo in pods at speeds of up to 1,000 kmh.
We also have our ever-popular North Yorkshire Annual Dinner on 24 January which is all about the business of sport and mail with an exciting Burns Night twist. We have top talent from Barclays, Royal Mail and Mansfield Town FC joining us.
We’d love to see you there !
Natalie Sykes, Regional Director, Institute of Directors