July 23: Region’s diversity raises questions for a Yorkshire mayor

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From: Terry Hodgkinson CBE, Yorkshire Forward chairman (2003-2010).

I THINK your newspaper’s thoughts on a mayor for Yorkshire are a step in the right direction, but perhaps too far at this moment in time.

Let me explain why. The economies of the sub-regions – West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, York and North Yorkshire, Hull and Humber – are each very different. Each has their own culture and characteristics.

Yes, there will be some common priorities such as transport, but individual distinctiveness is each one of their own key strengths and worth getting behind.

They have well-defined boundaries to which business and the wider population can relate and many of the services that would come under devolution plans are already ordered in that way e.g. police fire and ambulance services, as are the existing Local Enterprise Partnerships, set up by the previous coalition Government.

It therefore makes sense in my view to have an elected mayor for each of these and to create the accountable powers that come with the post. It is also extremely important to make sure that under them is built an executive capacity with the capability to deliver the budgets that are to be devolved in a timely and accountable manner.

As for what powers and budgets are devolved, I would come back to the important question? The answer lies in the resolution as to what decisions can be better made, ordered, funded and managed at sub-regional level rather than nationally and in areas where local accountability can better shape and run their own future.

Let the debate commence, but not for too long – we need to get the solution in place and up and running this year!

From: Terry Morrell, Prunus Avenue, Willerby.

MY view is that placing the responsibility of governing Yorkshire in the hands of one person is highly dangerous, whether that be political or trying to represent the differing needs of town and country by a single voice.

What would be a better system would be proportional representation in a regional parliament, probably replacing our present major authorities – which would fund it.

Of course, there would be still be need for a local second tier in the form of district councils to administer the day-by-day necessities but these authorities would be responsible to and directed by the Yorkshire parliament.