COUNCIL chiefs have been criticised for missing the chance to “seize vital powers” from Westminster.
Liberal Democrat councillor Dr Adam Carter (pictured) spoke out after Barnsley and Doncaster residents voted to back their councils' recommendation and pursue a One Yorkshire devolution deal rather than the South Yorkshire-focused option supported by Rotherham and Sheffield Councils.
Overall, 85 per cent of voters backed a wider regional deal.
Dr Carter said: “It is beyond belief that Labour in South Yorkshire are not taking the opportunity to seize vital powers back from the Conservatives in Westminster.
“The £30 million a year is badly needed in South Yorkshire.
“We should be investing in local jobs, skills and transport, but instead this is just another example of Labour arguing amongst themselves.
“They need to put their differences to one side, accept the Sheffield City Region money and mayor, and then work to see what can be done on a wider Yorkshire basis.”
South Yorkshire leaders have previously opposed a wider deal, saying a South Yorkshire deal already on the table — which would net the country £900 million over 30 years —should be signed before looking further afield.
Cllr Read, announced last week as the new chairman of the SCR Combined Authority, said at a debate last week: “We have committed to this deal.
“I was a bit of a late convert to devolution but it offers extra money and decision making powers to South Yorkshire.
“We have now got ourselves into a position where we could end up with nothing.
“Let’s get this deal done and I am happy for the conversation to then continue and if it comes to a point where there is something better on the table I am happy to take that to my council.”
Rotherham Borough Council has been approached for comment on today’s results.
Barnsley Council leader Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE said: “The will of the people is for wider Yorkshire. We'll work to make that happen and we're confident that this is the right move for Barnsley.
“Our next step is negotiating a way forward for wider Yorkshire.
“We’ll call on Government to enter into discussions on wider Yorkshire with the coalition of the willing.
“This includes not imposing a Sheffield City Region Mayor on the will of the people and we’ll work to push back any Sheffield City Region mayoral elections until 2020.
“We would also want to find an alternative deal for those who wish to remain in the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.
"We now know the direction that our residents want the borough to take, and people living in Barnsley now know much more about devolution and the benefits it will bring."
We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.