South Yorkshire’s first mayoral election is going to be held on Thursday, but aside from the usual split between left and right, there’s been another issue which has divided the candidates.
The argument is about whether there should be a mayor with jurisdiction over all 20 of Yorkshire councils, rather than just the four councils in South Yorkshire.
At the moment, Barnsley and Doncaster believe in leaving the South Yorkshire devolution deal – officially known as the Sheffield City Region – in favour of a Yorkshire wide deal.
However, Sheffield and Rotherham argue South Yorkshire should implement the Sheffield City Region deal first before any discussions about further devolution.
This split between the two camps has meant nothing about the actual role of the mayor has been agreed – leaving the victor in a difficult position.
It has become a key battleground in the election with two of the seven candidates supporting the idea, with four being against and one avoiding to commit to either side.
Labour’s Dan Jarvis-the current favourite to win-has been open about his support for the One Yorkshire deal.
He said: “My own view is that Britain is going to leave the EU at the end of 2019, and we have to think about what the best-devolved configuration for the people of Yorkshire is to improve their lives, and it seems to me the best way is by pulling all of Yorkshire together.”
Mr Jarvis plans on remaining MP for Barnsley Central if he wins the election until he can launch a bid for a full Yorkshire mayoral position.
Jeremy Corbyn supported the idea of a wider Yorkshire deal – also known as One Yorkshire – after Mr Jarvis was confirmed as the candidate.
However, the government has been reluctant to support the deal, with former Communities Secretary Sajid Javid indicating last November that the government would consider backing the idea if it was implemented in the Sheffield City Region as a whole.
One of the reasons the Conservative government is not fond of the idea is because it could potentially create one of the most powerful offices in the land which would be likely to be awarded to the Labour Party.
Conservative candidate, Ian Walker, said: “With the Sheffield City Region, we have a real chance to fight for this region, I don’t believe in devolution to us and then giving it up to Yorkshire, we should fight for this region here.”
However, there has been a party lobbying for devolved powers for Yorkshire long before the Labour party backed the idea.
Yorkshire Party candidate Mick Bower said: “What we deserve is an assembly, like Scotland has, so we can make the decisions that matter to people in Yorkshire up here.
“The Yorkshire Party is 100% clear. We will do exactly what it says on the tin: We’re all about an all-Yorkshire deal.
“The Sheffield City Region is too small, too unambitious. We’re all about Yorkshire.”
Green party candidate Rob Murphy did not believe a mayor was the right way to devolve powers to Yorkshire.
He said: “I don’t believe in a mayor of Yorkshire, I think it’s too big and diverse for being governed by one person.
“But, I do believe wider recognition of Yorkshire would be good for its people, we have a larger population than Scotland and more voices and representation for its people would have more influence with central government.”
The original Sheffield City Region deal was signed by former Deputy Prime Minster and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam Nick Clegg.
Now the deal is finally being implemented, the Liberal Democrats believe the best option for South Yorkshire is pushing forward with the already accepted deal rather than support fanciful ideas.
Their candidate, Hannah Kitching, said: “I don’t have a problem with anyone pursuing further devolution deals, but the job I am standing for is to be the metro mayor for South Yorkshire and that will be my priority.”
David Allen from the English Democrats believes there should be no devolution at all and would use the office to lobby for an English wide parliament, not just a Yorkshire deal.
He said: “If England is properly regionalised, Scotland will be the largest political unit within the UK. They usually ally themselves with the other Home Nations to the detriment of England.”
The last candidate standing in the election, Naveen Judah from Save our NHS, believes health spending should be a devolved power, which isn’t part of the Sheffield City Region deal, so any further devolution whether Yorkshire-wide or just in South Yorkshire, would need to have devolved health.
Whoever wins on Thursday will have to convince one of the two camps in South Yorkshire which route is better: Should we go for all of Yorkshire? Or should we stick with the existing South Yorkshire deal?