From: Coun Wayne Chadburn, Yorkshire Party, Thurlstone Road, Penistone, Sheffield.
IT is fitting that, on the 20th anniversary of the referendums in Scotland and Wales which led to devolved assemblies in Edinburgh and Cardiff, the death knell can be heard for the ‘devolution deal’ for South Yorkshire (The Yorkshire Post, September 19).
I’ve criticised Barnsley Council leader, Coun Sir Steve Houghton, on these pages in the past for pursuing this deal as I felt he was selling Barnsley and South Yorkshire short. It would therefore be churlish of me not to congratulate him on standing up to pressure from his colleagues in Sheffield and Rotherham as well as threats and intimidation from the Secretary of State Sajid Javid.
To all intents and purposes this deal, which would have led to just £30m a year being devolved to South Yorkshire and way less than the money cut from our local authority budgets since 2010, is dead. If a mayoral election still takes place next spring, it will be for a mayor responsible only for the buses.
However, the mettle of Sir Steve and the other council leaders across Yorkshire will now be tested.
In Yorkshire, we have a population greater than Scotland, an economy twice that of Wales and an area greater than London, yet we have the powers of none of these and are reliant on Westminster for everything. The only way we can progress as a region is to work together as a region. The One Yorkshire vision is the only game in town and the leaders of Sheffield and Rotherham must get on board.
The threats and intimidation coming from Westminster – who realise that Yorkshire working together as a region is a massive threat to their power base hence their attempt to divide us – can be seen off only if we with one unequivocal voice.
However I would go further with the scope of the ultimate devolution deal and the accountability structures. The leaders of Scotland, Wales and London are held to account by people with a real democratic mandate. I fear that, should the One Yorkshire vision come off, the ultimate ‘mayor’ will be accountable to the council leaders – an indirectly elected group of individuals pulling the strings. I want to see a Yorkshire which takes control of its future not just its buses.
This can only happen if we speak with one voice and employ something we Yorkshire folk are famous for towards those who would stand in our way – good old Yorkshire grit, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness.