WHO should be the first ever metro-mayor for the Leeds city-region? Who should assume the role for Sheffield and South Yorkshire? And what leadership qualities should voters be seeking if this region is to compete against Greater Manchester on an equal and effective footing?
Even though David Cameron says that the Government will deliver new powers to those Northern cities that do not consent to Boris Johnson-style mayors, it is now abundantly clear that this is the only option which will be acceptable to top Tories.
This is why Manchester and the North West is in pole position to race ahead of Yorkshire as an economic force – its decision to embrace mayors, and go against the wishes of those voters who rejected the plan in a 2012 referendum, was rewarded in the Budget when George Osborne said the area could keep business rates levied against newly-formed companies.
It is a game-changing move being viewed with envy by those civic, business and political leaders in Leeds and Sheffield who have been forced to accept diminished powers because of their own reluctance to embrace metro-mayors.
Some context is required. The experience of directly-elected mayors in Doncaster has not been favourable and the instincts of many Yorkshire people is that the cost of another tier of local government leadership cannot be justified at a time of council cuts. However, as Institute of Directors chief economist James Sproule intimates, Yorkshire will be the biggest loser of all if it does not accede to Whitehall’s wishes.
His argument is a powerful one in the week that The Yorkshire Post launched its own election manifesto to fight for a fairer deal for this region.But there’s another point that needs to be considered.If new-style mayors are backed here, they will not be a civic figurehead – the postholder will need to be an individual of repute – but should that person be a respected entrepreneur with wide experience of creating jobs in the private sector or a career politician who can navigate the corridors of power?
It is a debate that needs to be held.
A wake-up call
GPs must work with charities
GIVEN that GPs are the lynchpin of the NHS, hence the Government’s decision to give them unprecedented powers over the commissioning of care, it is all the more disappointing to read of the shortcomings highlighted by Muscular Dystrophy UK.
Like other organisations who work tirelessly on the part of people who have the misfortune to suffer from debilitating conditions, the charity has every right to be perturbed at the lack of support being offered by family doctors to victims of this muscle-wasting disease and how sufferers have to resort to using the internet to discover further information – and practical advice – about their illness.
This is totally counter-productive and adds to the trauma being suffered by those such as Leeds mother Alexandra Ashurst, whose five-year-old son Euan was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy three years ago.
As this newspaper has repeatedly highlighted with its campaign to support the lonely so such individuals do not become an even greater burden to the NHS, it is the same with muscular dystrophy and similar illnesses – a lack of support on the part of GPs is only likely to add to the emotional strain being faced families. Given this, the charity’s report must be viewed as a wake-up call for a closer relationship between doctors and organisations like Muscular Dystrophy UK so patients do not lose out on care that is critically important to their needs. They are the most important people here.
In very safe hands
Yorkshire cricket’s rich seam
IF sports teams want a template for future success, they should look at the rich seam of talent coming off the production line at Yorkshire County Cricket Club which has culminated with six players being called up for England’s forthcoming tour of the West Indies.
Yet, while the timing of the tour will deprive Yorkshire of some its key players when the side begins its county championship defence, it is the reaction of the club – and its supporters – to the selection dilemma that has been so striking.
Not only are they delighted that so many players nurtured locally are receiving deserved recognition from their country, but their absence is an opportunity for the next generation of batsmen and bowlers to showcase their skills as skipper Andrew Gale signals a desire to turn the current crop of players into a dynasty to rival the great sides of yesteryear. On this basis, Yorkshire cricket appears to be in the very safest of hands.