Public “uninformed” on devolution plans

The draft Sheffield City Region devolution deal was signed last year

The draft Sheffield City Region devolution deal was signed last year

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A NEW opinion poll reveals the lack of public engagement with plans for Yorkshire to take more control over its own affairs.

The Survation poll for the Yorkshire Devolution Movement found more than half of those surveyed described themselves as “not at all informed” about devolution moves.

Its findings were particularly startling in South Yorkshire which has progressed furthest down the devolution route.

An extensive public consultation has just finished on a devolution deal that is due to see a new elected mayor for the area in May next year.

Asked to rank themselves on a scale of zero to 10 about how informed they were about devolution, more than three quarters of those polled in South Yorkshire answered four or lower.

More than a third of the respondents across Yorkshire said they did not want to see any change and 28 per cent did not know what kind of devolution they wanted.

Only 12 per cent backed elected mayors and city regions - the approach taken by the Government - while 18 per cent wanted a Yorkshire Parliament.

Yorkshire Devolution Movement chairman Nigel Sollitt, said: “The fact that most people in Yorkshire are ignorant of the Government’s plans for devolution is clearly worrying. Even in South Yorkshire, where devolution to city regions is planned, people are overwhelmingly unaware of the Government’s proposals.

“The proposals for Yorkshire have been nothing more than local elites talking to national elites so it no wonder people feel uninformed and disengaged.”

“Putting more power in the hands of people who live in Yorkshire and know about the Yorkshire rather than having decisions taken in London has to be a good thing.

“However, people have to be involved in this process just as they were in Scotland to give any plans credibility. This has not happened at any stage in Yorkshire and the survey results confirm how much people are detached from the Governments plans.”

Survation surveyed 1,000 people across the region.

A Sheffield City Region spokesman said: “Whilst we can’t comment on the specifics of this poll, we recognise that more needs to be done to raise awareness of Sheffield City Region’s ambitious devolution proposals.

“Between 1 July and 12 August 2016, the SCR undertook an extensive period of consultation on our Governance Review proposals. In total our consultation generated 2,892 formal responses – and these were overwhelmingly in favour of the devolution proposals. Should the Secretary of State now chose to lay Orders to give effect to the devolution deal, we will be continuing to engage residents and businesses in advance of any forthcoming election.”

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