One of Britain’s top business leaders has said a devolution settlement encompassing the whole of Yorkshire would allow the region to punch its weight and compete on an international scale.
Ms Fairbairn made her remarks to The Yorkshire Post before addressing the CBI Yorkshire and Humber Annual dinner, where she told an audience at the University of Leeds that there needed to be a “willingness and openness from Government” and accused ministers of “devolving powers to the regions with one hand and holding them back with the other”.
When asked what One Yorkshire would offer over separate deals for the likes of Leeds and Sheffield, Ms Fairbairn said: “If you look how well Yorkshire is doing with the tech investment, with the employment growth, there is a real sense of opportunity. But I think we need to recognise that, if we look at global competition, scale really matters.
CBI chief backs independent Yorkshire
The leader of Britain’s biggest business group has backed a plan for the devolution of Yorkshire.
Civil servants have drawn up proposals to turn Yorkshire into a “country within a country” with a powerful mayor to rival London.
A paper from the Department for Communities and Local Government called Yorkshire Devolution has the backing of 17 out of 20 of Yorkshire’s council leaders — who have united under a One Yorkshire banner. The national and local Conservative and Labour parties are already exploring options for mayoral candidates.
The proposals, authored in part by the chief executive of Leeds city council, Tom Riordan, include: a Yorkshire cabinet made up of council leaders from the cities and towns of Yorkshire; a budget of £100 million a year from central government for the next 30 years; special powers to control spending on transport, education and benefits; and the ability to set local business rates.
However, the northern powerhouse minister Jake Berry has dismissed the plan. Mr Berry, who is in favour of the existing Sheffield City Region deal, clashed with pro-devolution MPs this week in the Commons.