Call for referendum on transport spending takes the biscuit

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From: R Hanson, Swallow Lane, Golcar, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

YORKSHIRE Forward was abolished because it was too successful in working with the councils in getting money out of the Government for infrastructure projects that are essential to Yorkshire’s well-being as well as other things such as training. It eased the way for this by calling Yorkshire Forward a costly unelected quango.

As part of replacing Yorkshire Forward, the Government promised to devolve responsibility for transport infrastructure projects to the councils of the administration areas, stating the Government would match the money that councils raised.

The Government never expected the very much parochial Yorkshire councils to talk to each other and it is now very worried that they are doing so (it will be even more worried that councils east and west of the Pennines are talking to each other about improving cross-border links).

The area administration councils have created a plan showing transport improvement that would massively enhance the competitiveness of Yorkshire’s businesses on a British and world scale but for this to be fulfilled the Government would, as promised, have to match the extra council tax that the Yorkshire councils raise. This would not do because in Britain’s stagnant economy it would lead to less having to be spent on London and the South East.

The Government could not call the area councils unelected quangos and so it had to find other unaccountable bodies to slate such as West Yorkshire Metro (which does an excellent job with what is available and in any case is funded and controlled by the councils) to wriggle out of supporting Yorkshire in doing anything that could damage London and the South East.

The Government comes up with many pathetic reasons why things cannot be done but having to have a referendum to raise council taxes takes the biscuit.

If it was truthful and told the people of this country why Britain is having a struggle to keep in the top league of wealthy nations i.e. for whatever reason Britain’s per capita output is no longer high enough in the world table to do so, things might be more understandable.

Nonetheless, the North of England in general, and here I am talking about Yorkshire in particular, should have a fairer share of what is available. If Communities Secretary Eric Pickles won’t stand down, the Yorkshire councillors must start a huge publicity campaign to show the people of Yorkshire how they on a personal scale will benefit from the 30-strong transport infrastructure schemes being implemented and in a referendum get them to accept an increase in council tax to help pay for them, even if they are strapped for money.

I wonder what Eric Pickles will think of then?

From: Peter Smith, Issott Street, Barnsley.

I WONDER how many members John Cornwell’s “South Yorkshire County Association” has? What is its raison d’être – to protect a postcode? Most Yorkshiremen shuddered at the uncouth title.

The old Yorkshire County Councils were based on the Norse “Ridings”, thirds of the county, and you can’t have four thirds.

We in Barnsley – and they, I suspect, in Rotherham and Doncaster – have become used to the 12 urban and rural district councils that came together with us as one metropolitan district within South Yorkshire. However, small is beautiful and whether small towns like Cudworth and Wombwell have grown used to us or not is another matter. One suspects that even more leafy areas like the Pennine villages would like the West Riding County Council back.

Barnsley was much more neighbourly and its politicians more accountable when it was a small borough. One can only assume it was even better before places like Carlton and Monk Bretton left the West Riding for us early in the 20th century.

I’m afraid that, thanks to the planning assault on the green belts and Michael Heseltine, we have not far to go now before we are all part of city administrative areas and Barnsley men become dee, dah, bleeders. Surely we can find mutual dignity and respect in a return to our common West Riding address?