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The Redcar conundrum

January 13, 2015

Chair of the Yorkshire Devolution Movement, Nigel Sollitt, writes:

As the general election approaches and candidates are selected across the country, the situation in Redcar throws up an interesting anomaly. The two recently formed regionalist parties, Yorkshire First (YF) and the North East Party (NEP) on the face of it could both be expected to put up candidates in the Redcar constituency. Both parties campaign for devolved power but whereas YF believes Redcar should be represented by a Yorkshire Parliament, NEP have plans to bring the people of Redcar under the same parliament as those of Newcastle.

The situation has arisen due to two measures imposed by the government, the Local Government Act 1972 (LGA1972), which restructured the boundaries of areas administered by local authorities, and the creation of Government Regions (GRs).

LGA1972 did not abolish traditional counties. It is therefore fact that the traditional county of Yorkshire still exists and that any town, village or piece of land that was part of Yorkshire prior to that Act coming into force in 1974, such as Redcar, is still part of Yorkshire now. Unfortunately, because those local authorities refer to the areas they administer also as ‘counties’, it has caused much confusion over the word and many people now believe, wrongly, that it was traditional counties that were altered or even eliminated. Yorkshire has been particularly adversely affected by this.   We suffered the abominations of ‘Cleveland’ and ‘Humberside’, both now thankfully gone, along with parts of our county being placed under the administration of local authorities bearing such names as ‘County Durham’, ‘Cumbria’ or even ‘Lancashire’ and ‘Greater Manchester’!

The introduction of GRs complicated the situation further. Again, the government paid no respect to the loyalties and identities of people when they decided which local authority areas would be included in which GR and as a consequence of this, parts of Yorkshire such as Saddleworth, West Craven and Sedbergh & Dentdale found themselves in the North West GR whilst former Startforth Rural District, South Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland were placed in the GR of the North East.

The overall effect of this Westminster meddling is that, instead of Yorkshire being a clearly identifiable integral entity in all respects as it should be, the government has fragmented traditional Yorkshire between various alien local authorities and unnatural ‘regions’, thereby administratively separating Tykes of many settlements from the bulk of their historic homeland and county brethren in the GR of Yorkshire & the Humber. But despite the name of the GR or local authority, those places all remain parts of Yorkshire, including Redcar & Cleveland !

Redcar is situated in the territory of the former Brythonic kingdom of Ebrauc, the first of the ancient kingdoms to become part of the Anglo kingdom of Deira, the original name for Yorkshire . It has therefore been an intrinsic part of the heritage, culture, and history of Yorkshire for fourteen centuries. Compare such depth of identity to the mere twenty years since the North East GR was imposed upon the people of Redcar and it clearly puts into perspective where the loyalty and identity of Redcar folk lay! This is demonstrated by such facts as every year on 1st August they fervently celebrate Yorkshire day and last year actually hosted the Yorkshire Ridings Society for their Yorkshire Day ceremonies , that they proudly support Yorkshire County Cricket Club and that since LGA1972 there have been many calls from Redcar for the area to be returned to Yorkshire administration including Councillor Chris Abbott’s call for all south Teesside to embrace their Yorkshire heritage and Councillor Tristan Learoyd’s call just last month for a referendum for Redcar & Cleveland to have closer Yorkshire ties rather than joining a combined Tees Valley authority with which nobody identifies .

I understand NEP intends to contest a dozen or so seats within the North East which comprises 30 parliamentary constituencies in total. Three of those 30 constituencies are wholly in Yorkshire (Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland and Redcar & Cleveland) with a further two being largely in Yorkshire (Bishop Auckland and Stockton South). Seemingly, this leaves more than twice as many North East constituencies that are wholly outside Yorkshire as there will be NEP candidates to stand in them. Why then, would they choose to contest a constituency that is bound to cause unnecessary conflict with a fellow regionalist party?

Whilst the Yorkshire Devolution Movement supports NEP and regional devolution in the North East, we must protest that the North East starts on the north bank of the river Tees and that anywhere between the Tees and the Humber is Yorkshire. It therefore follows that if any regional devolution party is to stand in constituencies between those two rivers, it should only be a party that stands for Yorkshire!


Nigel Sollitt, Chair, YDM








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One Comment
  1. Richard Carter permalink

    Great post Nigel. Whilst we agree Yorkshire’s boundaries, fighting an election relies fundamentally on local people coming forward and deciding to stand as candidates. If the NEP have a candidate in mind and we don’t, we would support their candidate. The NEP and Yorkshire First both believe that the people of those ‘border areas’ should have the choice which Assembly to be in. The first principle we are both fighting for is that of regional government.
    Regarding other constituencies nominally in the NE, if there are local candidates who want to stand under our banner we would be delighted to hear from them.
    Richard Carter, Leader Yorkshire First

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