Tour de France success shows the value of devolution to Yorkshire
There can’t have been many in Yorkshire who weren’t thrilled when the Tour de France organisers announced plans for the opening stages of the race in 2014 to be held in our region. Credit, rightly, has gone to Gary Verity and his team at Welcome to Yorkshire for the unceasing lobbying they put in over the months. The enthusiasm has been subsequently tempered somewhat by the Government’s decision that no public money would be spent on what will be the largest sporting occasion the region has seen in a generation. This stinginess of course contrasts with the £9 billion of public money put into the London Olympics. It would be inconceivable that should London have been awarded a stage or two of the Tour de France that Boris Johnson would not have been immediately inviting himself to Downing Street and banging the drum for his city.
The successful Yorkshire bid for the Tour de France highlights two things. Firstly, where the region has the kind of devolved powers (in this case tourism activities) to make the case for Yorkshire then it can be successful. Secondly, however, we still miss out on money because the region is unable to act with a singular voice. The imbalance in spending on transport infrastructure between the north and the south is well documented and yet is about to become worse. In addition to the several billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money already committed to South East England’s Crossrail project comes the news that the rolling stock for the line will be bought for three quarters of a million pounds out of the public purse. This contrasts with the few thousands needed to maintain the DalesBus service as reported by the Yorkshire Post recently or the electrification of the TransPennne line so desperately needed (and a commitment to new rolling stock – not the ‘hand-me downs’ from Crossrail).
The conclusion is that devolution of powers to Yorkshire works; let’s have more of it.