July 23: Who should be the Boris of Yorkshire?

From: N Taylor, Winton Road, Northallerton.

I WOULD be all in favour of a Yorkshire mayor provided that the chosen person was not a confounded politician, for politicians (with one or two notable exceptions of the calibre of Denis Healey or Anne McIntosh) can be guaranteed to make a complete mess of anything to which they put their hand.

It needs an outstanding businessman to drive the county forward and I can think of only two definitive exemplars, both unfortunately – as am I – soon to be a little past their virulent best.

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The first, from Barnsley – where else? – is the adequately proven Paul Sykes.

The second is North Yorkshire’s principal business driving force, Brian Dunsby from Harrogate.

Any businessman of their capabilities would get my full support.

From: Simon Stembridge, Barkisland, Halifax.

IT is logical and common sense that Yorkshire should be represented as a whole county in the context of devolved powers from Westminster rather than as a conglomeration of separate city-regions.

Yorkshire is much more than a collection of urban centres.

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If Yorkshire is to have a mayor representing the whole county, then there is one obvious candidate: Sir Gary Verity. This man has done more in recent years to create, sustain, and promote the Yorkshire brand and ethos than any organisation. He has shown that it is possible to create co-operation and cohesion between county councils, local government, and business organisations.

Vote Sir Gary Verity for Mayor of Yorkshire. He has already proved he can take on Westminster and win!

From: Coun Robert G Heseltine, North Yorkshire County Councillor Skipton, Senior Vice-Chairman, Rural Services Partnership Local Government Association, Smith Square, London.

WITHIN the devolution debate it would be unfortunate and an opportunity missed if council leaders were blinkered by defending their own perceived local, personal and political fiefdoms.

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Much has been said by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, about the Northern Powerhouse and that local councils should merge to become “combined authorities” with a Mayor, one person controlling and making decisions which could no way be described as democratic.

To my mind, this is rather piecemeal.

Any change has to be worthwhile in the medium and long term. I would suggest that if a mayor is an absolute condition of autonomy and some freedom from constant Whitehall control of local government, then we need to place local politics and personalities on one side.

For the greater good of Yorkshire, we must rise above party politics to achieve the best economic future for Yorkshire its people and its businesses.

An impartial mayor for the whole of Yorkshire would in effect be the chairman of the board of “Yorkshire Plc”. A constructive and supportive governance arrangement for all Yorkshire with councils working together with nominated representative leaders on the Yorkshire Board would retain democracy yet will deliver the opportunities from devolution to all communities across our great county of Yorkshire.

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This powerful board of elected council leaders would give strategic direction to major investments countywide, whilst maintaining the localism of management of local services, leaving the mayor to promote the greater Yorkshire nationally and internationally.

From: John Watson, Main Street, Kirk Deighton, Wetherby.

YOU are asking the question the wrong way round. Instead of saying “let’s have a Mayor and then figure out what the Mayor should do”, you should be asking “what powers need to be exercised on a regional basis and then what’s the best way to exercise them?” The answer may, or may not, be an elected mayor.

Where mayors currently exist, as in Doncaster or Tower Hamlets, they have effectively replaced local council “Cabinets”. There is no single Cabinet for Yorkshire at the moment and therefore there no powers to be exercised on a regional basis. I totally agree that such a basis could help Yorkshire to compete with Scotland or a Greater Manchester but the new powers would have to come from somewhere.

That was the problem with John Prescott’s ill-fated attempt to introduce an elected “regional assembly” in 2004; no one really wanted it to do anything so its proposed budget amounted to less than two per cent of public expenditure in the region. And much of that went on its own administration.

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If better transport links are the key (and they probably are), then are the council tax payers of Sheffield really prepared to pay for better links to the Leeds Bradford Airport? Are the residents of York, crying out for improvements to their Outer Ring Road, really going to be happy when what they get instead is a better rail service between Hull and Rotherham? Unless such issues are resolved, then any much-vaunted mayor will simply be a referee with no pea in his whistle.

From: Harry Moore, Leeds Road, Ilkley.

I NOTE that there is an announced drive to further promote tourism outside of London, headed by the Culture Secretary. I sincerely hope that he doesn’t send tourists to this region via Leeds Bradford Airport, what a dismal welcome to a lovely area. The Yorkshire Post should be required reading for John Whittingdale.

On an allied subject I see many suggestions for airport access improvement, often by using a rail link. I suppose that the idea would be to keep this link as short as possible on the grounds of cost, that might mean the line branching from Guiseley or Horsforth. I haven’t done the sums but the gradient necessary to reach the elevated airport would seem to be far too steep for any conventional rolling stock. A pipe dream? I think so.

Just as sensibly, an underground station could be built in the tunnel under Bramhope (on the Harrogate line) with a escalator from the station right into the LBA terminal.