Adam Bradford: Appeal to young if ‘Yexit’ - Yorkshire devolution - is take off

Young people are being urged to drive the devolution debate forward,
Young people are being urged to drive the devolution debate forward,
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WHEN are all 20 council leaders in Yorkshire going to get together and decide upon a common sense approach when it comes to devolution?

The One Yorkshire deal, which was debated in Parliament earlier this week, should be seen as a point of convergence and not a tool to divides opinion.

This is not a highbrow game of chess. It is the future of our region. Our region desperately needs to unlock new capital, and despite fully-fledged or fledgling deals such as Sheffield’s Brexit-breaking deal with China, we could work together and unite our pride in Yorkshire and make this region God’s Home County once again.

Imagine if our region had access to new income streams and could set itself up for success through deciding its own direction on skills, regional priorities, enterprise and other issues which are the foundation of our area’s fabric.

I hope I am not the only citizen of this fine county who thinks that Yorkshire’s devolution might just be its evolution.

For too long our councils have had their hands tied, constantly playing a delicate balancing act between local priorities and central government frameworks. In some cases how do the two even marry?

We cannot wait for the political machine of Westminster to catch up. Our county has huge talent, young digital skill and fledgling but innovative enterprise.

We need to recover from the losses we incurred when our traditional industries were wiped out from the 70s right through to now. Time is of the essence and I, for one, want to see decisions 
being taken.

Thousands of businesses are being started up every week in this country and Yorkshire has a ripe market for enterprise-led development.

Social enterprises making good use and taking good care of our countryside; small, owner-run businesses providing local jobs and getting targeted investment and favourable policies to help them to survive and thrive. This is the type of economy I want to see.

I want to see Brand Yorkshire alive and kicking again. Down south, they say ‘it’s tough up North, things are cheaper, the people are simpler, the lifestyle is more relaxed’.

Their views could not be further from the truth. We are a hard-working, resilient, focused, friendly county oozing creativity and a strong sense of passion for where we live.

On the day our precious Yorkshire’s future was debated in Parliament, I polled a group of young people aged 18-25 years. Not one of them was aware of the Yorkshire devolution arrangement, or even the concept.

One of them even asked me if that meant we would have our own government.

Now our region has a way to go in communicating its future road map to its citizens. Let us cut the political high road for the time being and start talking from the grassroots upwards about what these deals could mean for everyday citizens, Yorkshire businesses and Yorkshire culture.

Crucially one of my concerns is that any deal future-proofs our region, gives us a good run at making a difference for ourselves rather than trying to salvage some hope through the patchwork of pseudo-local and national policies out there.

‘Yexit’ is happening and I think it should. Our region in my view has always been bottom of the pile in terms of Government. Interestingly enough, I surmise this in a short experience 
I had a few years ago as part of a youth council.

One senior minister came up to visit the region and very kindly gave approximately four minutes of his time to speak to young people and their representatives, asking us ‘What is it like to live up North?’ and ‘What do you think the Government can do to make things easier?’

Somehow I have this feeling that the insinuation of this tone was that the North is impoverished and a difficult place to live.

At least for all the taxes we pay, 240 seconds was given back in listening time and compensation.

However the next steps solidify, uniting Yorkshire once again and bringing more power and investment to the region is a compelling proposition and one we should be strongly pursuing, underpinned by common sense agreements and co-operation within Yorkshire’s own sects.

Adam Bradford, 25, is an entrepreneur from Sheffield and the recipient of a Queen’s Young Leaders Award.