Council leader wants Humber unity after Yorkshire devolution deal snub
Councillor Stephen Parnaby at Sewerby Hall
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 25 Feb 2019
East Riding Council leader Stephen Parnaby has called for unity across the Humber after the government rejected a devolution deal for Yorkshire.
He believes ministers want a new-look Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to take on more powers and funding from Whitehall instead of a wider regional body led by a Greater Manchester-style elected mayor.
The LEP is currently a mix of council and business leaders and covers the four local authority areas on either side of the estuary.
It already receives direct government funding which it then allocates to specific projects based on its own strategic priorities for economic development across the Humber.
But its future depends on the outcome of a current national review of how LEPs operate.
As part of the review, ministers no longer want councils to be members of more than one LEP.
Lord Haskins with East Riding Council leader Steve Parnaby and Hull City Council leader Steve Brady (Image: kwoolhouse)
Three of the four councils around the estuary have backed the current Humber model but North Lincolnshire Council is continuing to lobby for a bigger LEP covering both the Humber area and all of Lincolnshire.
A second option to merge the two South Bank council areas with the rest of Lincolnshire is also on the table.
Cllr Parnaby, who is due to retire as a councillor in April, was recently appointed deputy to current Humber LEP chairman Lord Haskins.
Speaking at a full council meeting, he said the Humber LEP's current geographical reach was exactly what ministers were encouraging.
"It is difficult to see how a full merger between the Humber and Greater Lincolnshire would fit with the aim of creating a functional economic area.
"As for the second option, as I understand there has been little consultation with the business sector on it and it needs that sort of buy-in."
The Humber Bridge (Image: Martin Brent Photography)
Having supported the One Yorkshire concept from the outset along with his Hull counterpart Steve Brady, Cllr Parnaby said it was time to move on.
"We have yet to get full agreement but it is vital that we do if we are to continue to get funding in the future.
"I do believe we have already missed out by not getting our act together, particularly to those areas which already have a combined authority or an agreed LEP."
Next week's East Riding cabinet is expected to endorse a report supporting a new-look Humber LEP based on its current geographic boundary.