YP manifesto: Seize the moment to give Yorkshire the power to shape its own destiny

Time to sort out Yorkshire's devolution issues ahead of the General Election. Picture by Tony Johnson
Time to sort out Yorkshire's devolution issues ahead of the General Election. Picture by Tony Johnson
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TODAY The Yorkshire Post calls on the political parties to set out clear plans to address the problems facing this region so that its full potential can be unleashed and there is one issue above all that demands urgent attention.

This General Election should be the last where Yorkshire looks to politicians sitting 200 miles away to decide, for example, where roads should be built, how flood defences should be managed and the best way to join up health and social care services.

YP manifesto: Setting out our plans for change in Yorkshire

As metro-mayors get to work across swathes of England, Yorkshire will continue to have to go cap in hand to London to get support for even relatively minor initiatives.

Some have mocked the recent metro-mayor elections for focusing on issues such as homelessness and bus services which rarely feature in national campaigns.

But that is the point. Local politicians were expected to devise local plans that meet local concerns which rarely make it to the top of the Westminster 

In sharp contrast, having been given £173m by the Government to spend on transport, Leeds recently had to go back to the same ministers to get permission for the specific schemes in which it wanted to invest.

In North Yorkshire, the county council must negotiate with the Department for Transport about the realignment of the A59 at Kex Gill – a small scheme in a national context but massively important to improving the quality and resilience of east-west connections in the north of the region.

In Sheffield, a bid had to be submitted to the Government to secure the money needed just to draw up the documents which will then be used for a further request for funds to invest in the renewal of the Supertram.

There will be some who argue that when the country is at a major crossroads negotiating its future relationship with Europe this is not the time for distractions such as English regional devolution.

But the moment when this country is exploring new trading opportunities, considering how to replace European regional funding and farming 
subsidies and contemplating how to wield powers returning from Brussels 
is precisely the time to confront this issue.

The decisions taken in the next Parliament will shape Britain for decades to come and settling the Yorkshire devolution question must be part of that conversation.

And last year’s European referendum result was more than just a demand to cut our ties with Brussels.

It was a backlash against a political system that to many voters seems remote and out of touch with their 
day-to-day concerns and a show of anger that while power has been handed to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 
in England the focus remains the capital.

There have undoubtedly been failings in local leadership that have led to Yorkshire finding itself in the devolution slow lane.

However, the mixed messages from different arms of Government under the Coalition and the passive approach taken by the current administration have also played their part.

Whoever emerges victorious on June 9, the General Election it is an opportunity to start afresh, to inject new energy and enthusiasm into a process that has lost its way.

With commitment and endeavour there is no credible reason why an agreement over how Yorkshire runs its affairs cannot be in place by the end of the year.

Yorkshire can only benefit from taking more control over its own affairs, and the country can only benefit from a thriving Yorkshire.


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