YP Letters: Right to be worried about mayoral plan

Will Yorkshire devolution be settled in 2017?
Will Yorkshire devolution be settled in 2017?
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From: Sir Peter Newsam, Past Secretary, Association of County Councils, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering.

SENIOR council figures are right to be concerned about having a separately elected “executive” mayor in any devolved area of Yorkshire (The Yorkshire Post, January 11).

A mayor is an urban concept, wholly unsuitable, it should now have become clear, for areas demographically and economically comparable to Scotland. The sensible way to manage a devolved area was set out in the 1969 Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government.

This report was the first and last time local government in England was considered in depth by people competent to do that.

The Commission decided that the local authorities, some urban, some largely rural, that constituted what the Commission called a province, needed a provincial council to deal with matters that cut across local authority boundaries.

Transport and economic development were two examples of such matters. The provincial council would not be separately elected. It would be formed by councillors appointed to represent them by the local authorities within the province. The councillors forming the provincial council would then appoint one of their number as its leader. So long as that leader retained the confidence of the provincial council, he or she would have as much executive power and be quite as able to deal directly with government Ministers as any mayor.

As for democratic legitimacy, I know who my local councillor is but would have no idea who or what I was voting for in any mayoral election with candidates from far-flung parts of Yorkshire.

From: Graham Branston, Emmott Drive, Rawdon.

I VERY much hope the local authorities that have been party to having an elected mayor for the Greater Sheffield area do reject the concept.

It was rejected in a referendum in 2012 by nine cities including Sheffield, but the Cameron government dangled the significant carrot of more devolved powers and resources for areas having elected mayors. The allocation of public funds should be based on identifiable need, not adopting a new layer of bureaucracy. Manchester, of course, took the bait and, no doubt will continue to get enhanced central Government resources, some of which, in my view, should come to Yorkshire cities.

Like London, Manchester has done very well in recent years. I just wish Yorkshire MPs had more clout and banged the drum of need for Yorkshire more loudly. A regional approach for our great county may be a better option.

From: Michael McGowan, Former Labour MEP, Chapel Allerton, Leeds.

YOUR report of the plan to elect a Yorkshire voice to speak on behalf of the whole region (The Yorkshire Post, January 11) is a welcome move in the right direction and deserves the support across the county.

Whilst the UK has become one of the most centralised countries in Europe, regionalism has benefitted so much of the rest of Europe.

More than 200 regions in Europe have a base in Brussels whilst local authorities in Yorkshire have had nothing in the European capital since the closure of the very modest presence of Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency which was abolished by central government.

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the Yorkshire region needs to have a profile and clout which compares with the likes of Bavaria in Germany and Catalonia in Spain.

I hope local authorities, political parties, and the public of Yorkshire will unite in supporting the proposal for a single voice for the whole of the region and grab this opportunity as a first step to real devolution to give Yorkshire a profile and influence in the UK, in Europe and internationally which is long overdue.

From: Mrs G Wilson, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering.

RE City of Culture. I was born in Kingston upon Hull, educated, worked, married a local gentleman and only left when my husband’s occupation took us elsewhere.

Such an important sea port should surely deserve its rightful name. I don’t recall Kingston on Thames being referred to as ‘Thames’.

From: Keith Loudon OBE, Senior Partner, Redmayne-Bentley and Former Lord Mayor of Leeds (1993-1994).

IN response to Jon Trickett’s article ‘Give Yorkshire a voice to lead Britain to greatness’ (The Yorkshire Post, January 13).

Our county has been neglected for too long by the two main political parties. The London-based public life mafia have undervalued our county for too long.

Over our political lives, Jon Trickett and I have disagreed over many subjects but on this we are on the same wavelength. Congratulations, Jon, on your speech.

Back union on train guards

From: Michael Priestly, Thackley, Bradford.

WHILE Southern Rail and Aslef are battling over ending the practice of having guards on trains to open and close 
the doors, travellers need to put their own political allegiances aside and back the union.

By replacing guards who can earn a premium for door opening and closing skills with cheaper employees who will just be a second official presence on the train, Southern Rail is introducing the thin end of the wedge.

How long before those employees, too, are deemed to be surplus to requirements?

Who then will protect the rail travelling public from the assorted nuisances and menaces they sometimes find themselves travelling alongside?

No, in this dangerous world we need people who can ride shotgun. And while they’re at it, they might as well open and close the doors for a few extra bob.