Could Yorkshire voters be choosing a mayor in 2018?
Voters could be asked to choose a Yorkshire mayor in elections next year under a devolution plan.
With support, Chancellor Philip Hammond could announce the plan in his March Budget with elections to take place in May 2018, it says.
The proposal is the latest attempt to end the wrangling over Yorkshire’s efforts to take more control over its own affairs.
But it is understood senior council figures in a number of West and South Yorkshire authorities have reservations about the blueprint.
The plan proposes creating a mayor for Yorkshire who could be responsible for securing more powers for the region, being Yorkshire’s voice on Brexit, representing the region on the national stage and working with other parts of the North and the Government.
However the document says “most of the decision making” would take place in the existing combined authorities - which bring council leaders together on issues such as transport and skills - covering West and South Yorkshire and a new one established for the North and East of the region.
The mayor would have a cabinet, drawn from the combined authorities, and there would be an “assembly” system where councillors from across the region hold the system to account.
While branded “A Devolution Proposition for All of Yorkshire”, supporters of the proposal say it would effectively be three devolution deals with a single mayor
It is understood the document was drawn up by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority but it is labelled “not WYCA policy”, a reflection of the current lack of complete agreement on the plan.
There are concerns among some council leaders that, despite their limited powers on paper, a Yorkshire mayor would become a significant figure by virtue of being elected by the whole region.
Worries have also been expressed that the system would lead to slow decision making and produce tensions between different parts of the region.
However, supporters of the idea claim their plan would give the region huge economic political power with Yorkshire responsible for one third of the economic output of the North of England and an area seven times larger than Greater London.
The structure, they suggest, allows the region to work together while also recognising different areas’ needs.
“An ambitious, all of Yorkshire, devolution deal would mobilise popular community and business support, enabling local partners across the Region to build on a shared identity and individual and collective strengths and assets, and to properly address our key challenges,” the document says.
The possibility of a comprehensive plan for devolution in Yorkshire has been resurrected following a legal ruling which is expected to delay progress on a deal struck by the Sheffield City Region group of authorities.