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DEVOLUTION is 'alive and kicking' in Yorkshire and still has the potential to shape the region's future prosperity, according to a leading law firm.

Businesses across the region can benefit from greater funding and decisions being made closer to home, says Ward Hadaway, which organises the definitive run-down of the fastest growing companies in the region, the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50.

Jamie Martin

Jamie Martin, managing partner at Ward Hadaway.

Jamie Martin (pictured), Managing Partner at Ward Hadaway, which has operated a growing Leeds office since 2008, said that despite the current state of flux and uncertainty surrounding devolution in Yorkshire, the basic idea remains solid and highly relevant to companies of all kinds.

Jamie explained: “While it is fair to say that devolution in Yorkshire has not had the easiest time of late, I believe it is very much alive and kicking.

“On a fundamental level, having greater control over the decisions which affect things like investment, transport, infrastructure and skills is something which I believe most people in the region want – providing it is backed up with the funding to put those decisions into practice.

“Circumstances have conspired to make achieving this more difficult than many of us would have wanted, but I still believe that devolution in Yorkshire is something worth persevering with and worth fighting for.

“It is not a ‘magic bullet’ which will solve all the issues which the region faces, but devolution has the potential to shape all our futures for the better, regardless of the final form it eventually takes across Yorkshire.”

Last week the Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy poured cold water on the idea of a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal and Mayor – the ‘One Yorkshire’ proposal – saying it would be a “distraction” and “not legally possible”.

Mr Percy also warned that the Sheffield City Region devolution deal originally agreed in 2015 could be taken off the table unless progress was made.

A legal ruling has delayed the planned Sheffield City Region Mayoral election for this May by a year while councils in the rest of Yorkshire are yet to reach their own agreements on what form of devolution they want and what geographic areas should be covered.

Jamie Martin said: “Whilst it is important to get the final agreements right for all concerned, this does need to be balanced with the very real time pressures which are present.

“Nearby regions such as Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the Tees Valley already have agreements in place, are already benefiting from additional funding and will hold their Mayoral elections in less than four months’ time.

“This leaves Yorkshire playing catch-up to an extent so I hope that a way can be found through to reach the right agreement for the region soon.

“As we at Ward Hadaway have seen, not just through our own work with Yorkshire companies and entrepreneurs, but also with the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50, there is already so much to be proud of in this region.

“However, there is even more potential out there and getting the right deal on devolution would be a major step towards realising that potential to its fullest.”

The Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 has been celebrating business success and achievement across the region every year since 2011.

By analysing company financial figures, the Yorkshire Fastest 50 identifies and highlights the privately-owned, profit-making companies who have seen the biggest annual expansion in their turnover in recent years.

This process creates a definitive list of the 50 fastest growing companies in Yorkshire, the latest version of which will be published at the end of next month.

Then in March at a special event, awards will be handed out to the fastest growing small, medium-sized and large businesses, for companies with annual turnover of between £1m and £7.5m, between £7.5m and £15m and turnover of more than £15m respectively.

One of those three winners will then receive the accolade of being crowned Yorkshire’s overall fastest growing business for 2017.

Jamie Martin said: “Companies in the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 exemplify the best attributes of the region – hard work, determination and an ability to work together towards a common aim.

“It is these qualities which will also hopefully help to deliver the right devolution agreement for Yorkshire, which in turn could help create and nurture the award-winning companies of the future.”

* Find out more about the Fastest 50.

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