Devolution must be driven by local communities instead of London Government – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: John Rayner, North Ferriby.

Jackie Weaver chaired the now infamous Handforth Parish Council meeting that went viral on social media.

JACKIE Weaver makes a compelling case (The Yorkshire Post, November 27) in favour of parish and town councils, and she clearly ‘has the authority’ and experience to do so.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As the ‘first tier’ of local government, these volunteer bodies aided by professional clerks provide a focus for truly local representation and community support.

Jackie Weaver chaired the now infamous Handforth Parish Council meeting that went viral on social media.

However they are far from universally present across the country, which may be one reason why, as Jackie Weaver notes, they have been often overlooked in nationally driven devolution reforms.

There is clearly a case for more communities to benefit from this level of formal representation, which should be properly financed and integrated in a coherent structure of communities, districts and regions across the nation.

National government is needed only to manage an overall legal, judicial and security framework that all citizens can accept and respect, and to provide a formal interface to other nations globally and to continental neighbours, through foreign policy, defence and security, oversight of borders, international trade, travel and migration.

In most other respects, the national level is surely too broad to achieve efficient service delivery within the country – the history of Covid ‘track and trace’ is just one recent example.

Jackie Weaver chaired the now infamous Handforth Parish Council meeting that went viral on social media.

Most national government current responsibilities could therefore be devolved, but responsibility for deciding the allocation of public revenues must also follow.

We do not need districts and counties and regional authorities all constrained and micro-managed by Whitehall. In the modern world of electronic information, all elements of revenue – down to each individual VAT levy for example – can be tied to specific geography through the postcode of each party to a transaction or liability.

A nationally co-ordinated but locally focused revenue accounting system could thus allocate public finance automatically to each district according to the location where each revenue element arises.

A uniform structure of districts and regions would make a better pattern than the present hotch-potch, with town/parish groupings set up for all communities to act as an interface and sounding board to their district, while regions provide the interface to national level for strategic development, co-ordination across groups of districts and balance between urban and rural interests.

To reduce electoral burden, as the regional authority would be in essence a coordinating body, it could have a directly elected regional leader to ensure democratic accountability for policy but with members delegated from or appointed by directly elected districts.

The district then becomes the prime focus for all direct ’state’ service provision to the population, the initial recipient and arbiter of all revenue streams (in collaborative negotiation with their neighbours and regions) and they remain the interface for support and reporting of the parish level. We could turn the whole system on its head, devolve much of Whitehall, and truly take back control: let national government bid for its funding from the districts and regions!

From: Jarvis Browning, Fadmoor, York.

LOCAL knowledge is very often over-ridden by Government and national bodies, who think they know better. Is it not time for them to step back and return to local common sense?

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app, receive exclusive members-only offers and access to all premium content and columns. Click here to subscribe.