YP Comment: Yorkshire’s future – who will seize devolution initative?

Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome lead the Tour de France through Leeds. The event showed what is possible when Yorkshire councils work together.
Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome lead the Tour de France through Leeds. The event showed what is possible when Yorkshire councils work together.
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SIR GARY Verity is adamant – Yorkshire was only able to host the opening two stages of the 2014 Tour de France because one organisation had oversight for the whole county.

If it wasn’t for Welcome to Yorkshire, the region’s tourism body, he – and others – doubt whether this region’s local authorities, and their endless tiers of bureaucracy, would have been able to pull in the same direction and stage the greatest Grand Départ in the event’s history.

Given how tourism is one of this region’s major success stories, and integral to the county’s future economic prospects, how is Yorkshire’s potential going to be maximised in the future? At present, the prevailing debate about Yorkshire and Britain’s relationship with the European Union is coming at the expense of other considerations such as devolution.

While regional rivals forge ahead, talks about Yorkshire’s future are deadlocked. Some favour separate deals for individual city-regions, the approach being embraced in the south of the county, while others believe West, North and East Yorkshire should work together for the greater good. A strategy favoured by Hull Council leader Steve Brady, not least because of the strategic importance of the Humber ports, it comes on the day that the IPPR North think-tank says the Northern Powerhouse will only succeed if policy-makers harness opportunities that exist in places like Doncaster and Wakefield which are at risk of going under the radar.

Given the extent to which many of Yorkshire’s councils, and accompanying authorities, are digging in their heels, presumably because those concerned don’t want their fiefdoms broken up, just how will the current impasse be ended – and is there anyone out there who is willing to act as honest broker and come up with a way that enables each region of Yorkshire to flourish under one umbrella body tasked with selling God’s Own Country to Britain, Europe and the world? Surely someone out there is willing to answer their county’s call?