EVEN THOUGH any change of government brings about political upheaval, it also provides a chance to press the ‘reset’ button on policies which had previously reached a dead-end.
Yorkshire devolution is a case in point. An issue which saw Theresa May’s ministers at odds with leaders here, Boris Johnson’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Northern Powerhouse – he’s still to put his policy pledges into action – does offer fresh impetus for now.
And with all political parties committed to devolving more powers, and responsibilities, from Westminster to the provinces, the current impasse does neither Yorkshire – or Britain – any favours when it is estimated that the One Yorkshire model could generate up to £30bn a year.
As such, the tentative idea of creating a powerful new pan-Northern body, run by business leaders, to act as a bridge between the Government – and local authorities – is worth exploring further.
The benefits are this. First, it counters concerns that LEPs – local enterprise partnerships – are too small to be effective. Second, it involves entrepreneurs, people who know how to create jobs and get things done, in the policy process. Finally, it will provide some continuity if, as many suspect, Brexit leads to more political paralysis.
The downsides appear to be this. Such a proposal would, potentially, create another tier of bureaucracy – many taxpayers will baulk at this prospect – and not settle the dilemma about whether Yorkshire’s future interests are best served by a single mayor or a series of elected figureheads.
However the fact that the Government is willing to rethink its approach is an opportunity which should be taken by regional leaders here – even more so as the likelihood of an early general election also has the potential to make Ministers more malleable to those areas, like Yorkshrie and the North West, where there are a raft of marginal seats.