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Chamber gathers business wish-list as hopes grow for devolution breakthrough

HOPES for a breakthrough in Yorkshire’s ‘devolution deadlock’ have spurred the local Chamber of Commerce to study what businesses want from any deal.

It is more than two years since clashing devolution bids for Yorkshire were submitted to the Government, and while elected mayors are now wielding new powers in places such as Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the Tees Valley, fears are growing that Yorkshire is being left behind.

But with 17 of Yorkshire’s 20 local authorities now uniting behind a Yorkshire-wide devolution bid dubbed One Yorkshire, the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce wants to make sure the needs of the business community are heard during any negotiations.

It has begun a survey, asking business figures what area a devolution bid should cover, whether an elected mayor should have tax-raising powers and what local services he or she should oversee, from policing to helping firms export goods overseas.

Mark Goldstone, head of business representation and policy, said: “Devolution has the potential to offer our region significant control over its own future and we are keen to ensure businesses both understand the implications of, and have a say in, what powers and funding might be devolved.

“Many businesses I speak to are concerned that we are behind the curve and see other regions powering ahead, we do need to ensure their concerns are acknowledged. Similarly there are many businesses for whom devolution is an issue for the politicians and local authorities, however this is an agenda which will have a direct impact on the region’s economy and in turn their companies also.

“Devolution has the potential to deliver new road and rail infrastructure, fund future training initiatives and ensure the region is in a stronger position because of the local knowledge that will be driving the decision making.”

The survey is at www.wnychamber.co.uk.

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