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Tour de France success shows the value of devolution to Yorkshire

March 8, 2013

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.

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3 Comments
  1. Nigel Sollitt permalink

    Very valid point made here: If Yorkshire can achieve results like securing the opening stages of one of the worlds most prestigeous sporting events by having effective devolution in respect of tourism, imagine what Yorkshire could achieve in respect of employment, transport, education, social welfare etc by having effective devolution in government?

    Another point that the people of Yorkshire need to consider from the points made here is this: Without devolution Yorkshire’s ‘prosperity’ will remain in the hands of the UK government and we all know that that means investment that should be going to Yorkshire will, instead, be going to London and the South East. The article specifically mentions transport which is a typical example of this. The spend per person on transport in London is £700; in Yorkshire it is less than a third of that figure at just £200 per person! Coupled with this, Yorkshire folk then need to consider the position of Yorkshire in relation to the already devolved Wales and Scotland. Whereas the Tour de France may cause Yorkshire to imagine what they could achieve through devolution, Wales and Scotland are actually achieving those things. This leaves Yorkshire in the position where she is being neglected by central government and is losing out to those that already have devolved government. The only way to rectify both of those injustices is for Yorkshire to join the ranks of those who have the powers to determine their own destiny by having her own devolved Yorkshire government.

    • Excellent point Nigel. That imbalance in transport spending is set to get worse as Boris is looking for close to a billion pounds of public money for his ‘Crossrail for bikes’ scheme announced last week.

  2. Willie Fleming permalink

    Dont forget the contribution Yorkshire is expected to make to the £4.1bn sewer upgrade for London. Read this
    http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-economy/4757-cameron-must-explain-why-scots-have-to-pay-for-londons-sewer-upgrade

    and substitute “Yorkshire ” for “Scotland”

    Why should you pay for Londons sewers?

    Its not just the Scots they are robbing blind, its everyone outside the SE.

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