Kirklees Council’s leader has issued a rallying call to MPs to lobby for Yorkshire devolution.

As European Union investment in the region dries up because of Brexit, Clr David Sheard has said it is more urgent than ever for Yorkshire to get a deal.

The region’s deal has been held up by political arguments about where should be included.

Yorkshire was expected to quickly follow in the footsteps of Manchester but council leaders of the so-called Leeds City Region – which includes the five Labour run West Yorkshire councils along with Harrogate, Selby and Skipton – have so far been snubbed by the government.

Clr Sheard has claimed their deal was “hijacked” by Conservative MPs who want rural north and east Yorkshire to be included.

Those areas have very different priorities to the urban Leeds City Region.

“Unfortunately, the ending of European support in two years’ time, or earlier, will make the region reliant on support from central Government,” said Clr Sheard.

“All the indicators are that we will be left behind.

“Now the only new investment we seem to attract from central government is the building of a new prison.

Kirklees Council leader David Sheard
Kirklees Council leader David Sheard

“Deals are announced, with and without mayors, in regions smaller and less cohesive than the Leeds City Region, with no track record of delivering or of any partnership working. Deals we are denied.

“Our unemployment rate is lower than Greater Manchester and Greater Birmingham.

“Both these regions, which are a comparable size to Leeds City Region, are performing worse despite being granted devolution.”

He also had a message for the region’s MPs, some of who he has been told are not backing the plans the region has put forward.

“We can only ensure that the region gets a fair deal is all our MPs work together to fight for our share,” said Clr Sheard.

Yorkshire devolution: Kirklees Council leader reveals political rows hindering deal with government

“I would urge them to follow Manchester’s approach and start meeting weekly to lobby for our region.”

Clr Sheard’s plea for action comes a few weeks after chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Clr Peter Box, called for a “White Rose Brexit” as soon as possible.

Clr Box claimed devolution would make everyone in Yorkshire £600 better off each year, produce 47,000 new jobs working in 35,000 additional modern businesses and would allow 53,000 people to come off benefits.

He said: “We, as West Yorkshire’s council leaders, share the frustrations of business, of partners and the public that a devolution deal has been blocked repeatedly, meaning decisions that affect our region are still not taken locally.”