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YDM Submission to the Treasury on Devolution Proposals

September 30, 2015

The following is the executive summary of a submission on the current devolution proposals which was sent to the Treasury on 30th September 2015.

We fully support the ambition of the Government to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and acknowledge its intention to achieve this by devolving powers to authorities adopting an elected mayor. Our particular interest is how such devolution will be implemented in Yorkshire and that is the basis on which we submit this input.

Of the 38 bids submitted by local authorities, 10 involve parts of the traditional county of Yorkshire. There have also been proposals made by MPs such as that by Greg Mulholland who proposed a mayor for the whole of the traditional county. It is our view that Yorkshire being involved in so many bids and proposals is a consequence of administrative boundary changes imposed by governments since the 1970s that have taken no account of the unique heritage of Yorkshire or the strong identity of the Yorkshire people. We believe that had they done so, administrative Yorkshire and traditional Yorkshire would share the same boundary and much fewer bids, or only one bid for devolution to the whole county, would have been submitted. 

In deciding the geography of devolution in Yorkshire, the Treasury should consider the following points:

  • Granting devolution to an integral Yorkshire will respect the heritage of Yorkshire, recognise the Yorkshire identity and satisfy the need to belong (to Yorkshire). This will motivate the Yorkshire people to achieve for their county and therefore for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and the whole UK. Devolving to false regions and fragmenting Yorkshire will fail to capitalize on that motivation and actually demotivate people by being seen as a threat to their heritage, identity and need to belong. The undoubted success of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France last year and the determination to make it happen at all is testament to how Yorkshire is motivated when acting in the name of their county.
  • An All-Yorkshire settlement is widely supported amongst Conservative Cllrs, MPs and MEPs. Yorkshire-wide/regional devolution is party policy of the Lib Dems, The Greens and Yorkshire First and even Labour MPs, such as Jon Trickett, and Labour Cllrs from outside S Yorks and W Yorks, such as Stephen Brady, leader of Hull, have voiced support for Yorkshire-wide devolution. It is generally only Labour councillors of South Yorks and West Yorks that oppose it! Should the few determine the future of the many?
  • Unlike a fragmented Yorkshire, a united Yorkshire would provide ready-made cohesion across the region and therefore be better placed to make Yorkshire and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ successful.
  • Greater benefit would be gained from the synergy of needing the management structure and assets of only one authority to deliver infrastructure and public service requirements throughout Yorkshire than would be achieved by needing the management structures and assets of several authorities.
  • Greater benefit would also be gained by a united Yorkshire because, unlike a fragmented Yorkshire, there would be no need to rely on collaboration agreements with other authorities in Yorkshire to deliver pan-Yorkshire projects. Thereby increasing efficiency, effectiveness and speed of delivery.
  • The diverse economy of a united Yorkshire would offer greater protection against adverse market forces than would the economies of individual parts of a fragmented Yorkshire which rely on much fewer market sectors.

We believe that devolution on a Yorkshire-wide basis gives the right balance between decentralisation and functionality so that Yorkshire can prosper as an entity in itself whilst making significant contribution to the success of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and the UK in general. We also believe that devolution should be about empowering people and that, in the spirit of devolution, the final decision on how Yorkshire is to be rearranged should rest with the Yorkshire people. We respectfully ask that the aforementioned points receive the serious consideration of the Treasury and that devolution to Yorkshire is prioritised in the following order of preference:

  1. Devolution to the whole of the traditional county of Yorkshire, as proposed by Greg Mulholland, MP.
  2. Devolution to a combined authority comprising all local authorities within Yorkshire’s traditional boundary.
  3. Devolution to ‘Greater Yorkshire’ (all parts of Yorkshire and the Humber region except South Yorkshire, North-East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire).
  4. Devolution to York, North Yorkshire and East Riding together with devolution to Leeds City Region, inc Hull in either.

Nigel Sollitt
Yorkshire Devolution Movement

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