Leaders of West Yorkshire councils agree what devolution for the region should look like.
But some opposition councillors question the future for local authorities like Kirklees and views of the public are now being sought.
Under the government plans, money and power over local transport, housing, planning, policing and public health could be handed to the region, but it will mean having an elected mayor.
Council leaders’ preferred option is to unite Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield with the North Yorkshire districts of Craven, Harrogate, Selby and York.
They believe including North Yorkshire in a devolution deal is wise as it’s part of the existing Leeds City Region economic area.
The combined Yorkshire region would represent the UK’s largest regional economy outside London. It generates £57.7bn of economic output and has a population of 2.8m – over 92% of whom also work within its area.
Kirklees Council leader Clr David Sheard said he thinks people will agree with devolution, but not with extra layers of administration and stressed bids, not commitments, were being made, adding: “We have got to make a decision quickly. I’ve put questions out to the public to get views.
“We need to consider whether that is the right area to take the increased decision making powers and resources to achieve our ambitions.
“There is a huge opportunity to take more direct control of decisions and resources and that should mean that we take better decisions that meet our ambitions for our own futures.”
Councils have put forward a list of 27 devolution requests to the government. Among them are control of a 10-year infrastructure precept – exempt from capping – that will fund a “world class public transport system”.
They also want power, responsibility and maintenance budgets for key highways, plus more of a say in the management of the M62.
Also the Colne Valley could become a recognised Enterprise Zone; they want power to prevent developers land banking; plus they want to explore changes to blue light services and courts to protect the front line.
Challenges will be in the form of current administrative boundaries and political.
Clr Andrew Cooper, Green leader, labelled Government proposals to “foist” an elected mayor on the region as “undemocratic” adding: “Referenda across the region have rejected the elected mayor concept.
“In 2001, in Kirklees, local people voted 73% to 27% against an elected mayor so why would a Conservative Government, elected with 37% of the vote wielding 100% of the power that has just stuffed the unelected House of Lords with Tory lackeys, behave in such an undemocratic fashion?”
He said a body along the lines of the Greater London Assembly, elected by proportional representation, would be better than an elected mayor.
Clr David Ridgway, Lib Dem, said the future will be the “removal of local authorities and indeed us and what we’ll be left with is only leaders or a dictatorship.”
His party colleague, Clr Andrew Pinnock, described it as a case of local government reorganisation with a future of smaller councils on the cards.
Clr Robert Light, Tory leader, described it as once in a generation chance to get more powers for northern England, adding: “The government has recognised regions can determine their economic futures better than central government. The challenge for us it to get the best working model to deliver it.”
Geographically, there are four possibilities in terms of “mayoral devolution”, they are: West Yorkshire and York; the Leeds City Region (preferred option); Greater Yorkshire (covering the west, north and east of the county); whole of Yorkshire.
The proposals are being submitted this week to meet the government’s Friday deadline. The chancellor is due to report back the following week.
Have your say: Click here for Kirklees Council's devolution survey